New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendera Modi's pet cleanliness scheme, Swachh Bharat Mission, has been given a 27.5% hike in funds as the government wants to shift from building toilets to better waste management. The Swachh Bharat Mission was alloted rupees 9,638 crore in revised estimate in FY2019-20.
Presenting India's first general budget in the new decade, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman alloted rupees 12,294 crore for the programme. In the FY19-20, the government has alloted rupees 12,644 crore but a large amount remained unspent. Sitharaman underlined that the NDA government will continue to push for the next phase after meeting its initial target of making India open defecationi free (ODF). The government's claims however, has been countered by a team of demographers led by Dianne Coffey, a visiting researcher at the Indian Statistical Institute. The team found that at least 43% of rural people in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, accounting for two-fifths of India's rural population, still defecated in the open in 2018 because of "cultural and other reasons". The government however, has junked this claim. The ODF Plus will focus on better waste management to ensure higher levels of cleanliness. The scheme, which was rolled out from October 2 in 2014, has so far built 10.2 crore toilets across the states, according to the official data.
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