Swachh Bharat Mission

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Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM)
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan logo.jpg
PM Modi launches the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan (1).jpg
PM Modi launches Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
SloganOne step towards cleanliness.
Prime Minister(s)Narendra Modi
LaunchedRaj Ghat; 2 October 2014; 5 years ago (2014-10-02)

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) or Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBA) or Clean India Mission was a country-wide campaign from 2014 to 2019, to eliminate open defecation and improve solid waste management (SWM) in urban and rural areas in India. The objectives of the mission also included eradication of manual scavenging, generating awareness and bringing about a behavior change regarding sanitation practices, and augmentation of capacity at the local level. Initiated by the Government of India, the mission aimed to achieve an "open-defecation free" (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.[1] The mission aimed at progressing towards target 6.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals Number 6 established by the United Nations in 2015.

The campaign's official name is in Hindi, in English it translates to "Clean India Mission". The campaign was officially launched on 2 October 2014 at Rajghat, New Delhi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is India's largest cleanliness drive to date with three million government employees and students from all parts of India participating in 4,043 cities, towns, and rural communities. At a rally in Champaran, the Prime minister called the campaign Satyagrah se Swachhagrah in reference to Gandhi's Champaran Satyagraha launched on 10 April 1916.[2]

The mission was split into two: rural and urban. In rural areas "SBM - Gramin" was financed and monitored through the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation; whereas "SBM - urban" was overseen by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.[3][4][5][6]

As part of the campaign, volunteers, known as Swachhagrahis, or "Ambassadors of cleanliness", promoted indoor plumbing and community approaches to sanitation (CAS) at the village level.[2] Other activities included national real-time monitoring and updates from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as The Ugly Indian, Waste Warriors, and SWaCH Pune (Solid Waste Collection and Handling).[7]

The government provided subsidy for construction of nearly 110 million toilets between 2014 and 2019,[8][1] although many Indians especially in rural areas choose to not use them.[9] The campaign was criticized for using coercive approaches to force people to use toilets.[10][11] Many households were threatened with a loss of benefits such as access to electricity or food entitlements through the public distribution system.[citation needed]


Open defecation and contamination of drinking and bathing water has been an endemic sanitary problem in India.[12][13] In 2014, India was the country with the highest number of people practicing open defecation, around 530 million people.[14]


India's prime minister Modi at a rally to promote Swachh Bharat Mission

Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaign, launched on 2 October 2014 on birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, aimed to eradicate open defecation by 2 October 2019, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, by constructing 90 million toilets in rural India at a projected cost of 1.96 lakh crore (US$27 billion).[15][16][17] The national campaign spanned 4,041 statutory cities and towns.[18][19] conceived in March 2014 at a sanitation conference organised by UNICEF India and the Indian Institute of Technology as part of the larger Total Sanitation Campaign, which the Indian government launched in 1999.[20]

Previous sanitation campaigns[edit]

A formal sanitation programme was first launched in 1954, followed by Central Rural Sanitation Programme in 1986, Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) in 1999 and Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan in 2012.[21][22][23][24] A limited randomized study of eighty villages in rural (Madhya Pradesh) showed that the TSC programme did modestly increase the number of households with latrines, and had a small effect in reducing open defecation. However, there was no improvement in the health of children."[25][26] The earlier "Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan" rural sanitation program was hampered by the unrealistic approach.[27][28][29] Consequently, Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was restructured by Cabinet approval on 24 September 2014 as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.[19] The rural household toilet coverage in India increased from 1% in 1981 to 11% in 1991, to 22% in 2001, to 32.7% in 2011.[30]



The core objectives of the mission were to reduce open defecation and improve management of municipal solid waste in both urban and rural areas.[citation needed] Elimination of open defecation was to be achieved through construction of individual household level toilets (often twin pit pour flush pit latrines), community toilets and public toilets.[31] For improving solid waste management, cities were encouraged to prepare detailed project reports that are bankable and have a financial model.[31]


Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is expected to cost over 620 billion (US$8.7 billion).[6][32] The government provides an incentive of 12,000 (US$170) for each toilet constructed by a rural family.[15] An amount of 90 billion (US$1.3 billion) was allocated for the mission in the 2016 Union budget of India.[18][33] The World Bank provided a US$1.5 billion loan and $25 million in technical assistance in 2016 for the Swachh Bharat Mission to support India's universal sanitation initiation.[17] The programme has also received funds and technical support from the World Bank, corporations as part of corporate social responsibility initiatives, and by state governments under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan schemes.[16]

Promotional campaigns[edit]

Selected public figures and brand ambassadors[edit]

Manisha Koirala at Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in November 2014
One of the posters from cartoon based campaign by MCG drawn by the Cartoonist Shekhar Gurera
Beach cleaning robot Swachh Bot, made by a maker community in Chennai

Brand ambassadors nominated from 2014 to 2018
Early 2014 Late 2014 2015 2017 and 2018
Prime Minister Modi selected the following public figures to propagate this campaign:[34][35] Brand ambassadors nominated by Prime Minister Modi in 2 Oct 2014:

On 8 November 2014, Prime Minister carried the message to Uttar Pradesh and nominated another set of nine people for that state.[36][37]

On 5 January 2015, the minister in-charge nominated followed Telugu icons as brand ambassadors.[38][39] From later dates the following public icons were nominated as National Brand Ambassadors by Prime Minister Modi to join and support the Swachh Bharat Mission:

Other notable activities[edit]

  • Anushka Sharma and the Vice President of India M V Naidu picked up a broom to help clean the cyclone-hit port city of Visakhapatnam, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, as part of the cleanliness campaign.[46]
  • Prime Minister Modi nominated a number of organisations in October 2014 to be "brand ambassadors", including the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Eenadu and India Today as well as the dabbawala of Mumbai, who deliver home-made food to lakhs of people in the city.[clarification needed] More than 3 million government employees and school and college students participated in the drive on the occasion.[47][48]
  • A Swachh Bharat Run, attended by 1,500 runners, was organized at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on 2 October 2014.[49][50]
  • Kunwar Bai Yadav lived in a village in Dhamtari district and sold seven of her goats to raise the money to build a toilet at her house at age 106 in 2016. She was declared a mascot of the campaign and visited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • Inspired by the Clean India Mission, a robot named Swachh Bot was built by a maker community in Chennai to clean the wastes on Besant Nagar beach.[15][51]

Planned initiatives[edit]

Indian Naval Academy cadets taking part in Swachh Bharat Mission, 2016

The Government appointed CPWD with the responsibility to dispose of waste from Government offices.[52] The Ministry of Railways planned to have the facility of cleaning on demand, clean bed-rolls from automatic laundries, bio-toilets, dustbins in all non-AC coaches.[53][54] The Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya campaign was launched by the Minister of Human Resource Development, Government of India by participating in the cleanliness drive along with the school's teachers and students.[55][56]

Performance monitoring[edit]

Individual household latrines coverage in rural India.

Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) Mobile app is being used by people and Government organisations for achieving the goals of Swachh Bharat Mission.[57] For this the government of India is bringing awareness to the people through advertisements.[58]

In 2017, the national sanitation coverage rose to 65% from 38.7% on Oct 2, 2014 before the start of the campaign.[59] It was 90% in August 2018.[60] 35 states/Union Territories, 699 districts and 5.99 lakh villages were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) by 25 September 2019.

The cities and towns which have been declared ODF stood at 22 percent and the urban wards which have achieved 100 percent door-to-door solid waste collection stood at 50 percent. The number of Swachhagrahi volunteers working across urban local bodies rose to 20,000, and those working in rural India rose to more than a lakh. The number of schools with separate toilet facilities for girls rose from 0.4 million (37 percent) to almost one million (91 percent).[59]

Swachh Survekshan annual cleanliness survey[edit]

Swachh Survekshan, commissioned by Ministry of Urban Development and carried out by Quality Council of India, is an extensive sanitation survey across several hundred cities to check the progress and impact of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and to foster a spirit of competition among the cities. The performance of each city is evaluated on six parameters:


Sunita Devi who was inspired by the campaign won the Nari Shakti Puraskar award in 2019 for constructing toilets in Jharkhand.[61]

According to the dashboards maintained by respective ministries, more than 100 million individual household level toilets have been constructed in rural areas, and 6 million household toilets in urban areas. In addition, nearly 6 million community and public toilets have also been constructed in the urban areas. Consequently, 4,234 cities and more than 600,000 villages across the country have declared themselves open defecation free (ODF).[citation needed]

Further, more that 81.5 thousand wards in urban areas now have100% door to door collection of solid waste and nearly 65 thousand wards practice 100% segregation of waste at source. Of the nearly 150 thousand metric tonnes of solid waste generated in urban areas, 65% is being processed.

An independent survey released by Quality Council of India in August 2017, reported that overall national rural "household access to toilet" coverage increased to 62.5% and usage of toilets to 91.3%, with Haryana topping the national ranking with 99% of households in rural areas covered and usage of toilets of 100%.[62] World Health Organization (WHO) has in its report stated that at least 180,000 diarrhoeal deaths were averted in rural India since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission.[63] According to a survey carried out in 2018 and published in 2019 by National Statistical Office (NSO), 71% of rural households had access to toilets as of 2018. Though this was at odds with the Indian government's claim in 2019 that 95% of rural households had access to toilets, NSO's numbers still indicated a significant improvement over the situation during the previous survey period in 2012, when only 40% of rural households had access to toilets.[64]


The mission is noted as the world’s largest sanitation program. It claimed to have provided millions of people access to toilet and brought about a change of behavior towards its usage.[65] Many argue that it has not really eliminated open defecation as rapidly as the government claims.[66][67][68] It has accelerated the pace of decline in open defecation.[69]

Allocation of funds[edit]

Constructing toilets became the mission's singular focus, even though elimination of open defecation and improving solid waste management were core objectives. Funds for solid waste management under the mission were diverted towards toilet construction.[70] Allocations for other sectors were also drastically reduced. Though behavioral change is one of the goals of the mission, only 1% of the mission’s outlay was spent on education and awareness.[71][72] Most of the allocation for the category, “information, education and communication”, that was to be used for awareness generation was spent towards print, radio and television advertisements.[72][70] No part of the Central Government’s allocation was spent on awareness generation at the grass roots.[70][72]

Target driven approach[edit]

The target driven approach also had its fallout; it lacked legitimacy due to extreme methods like coercion and threats like discontinuation of subsidized food grains and education of their children.[73] Households from the marginalized sections like the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes reported facing harassment and humiliation at the hands of swacchgrahis, who were often local elites.[73]

The SBM has also been criticized for being subsidy-driven rather than community-driven.[74]

Inappropriate containment system[edit]

Most of the toilets constructed under the mission rely on twin pits or septic systems for containment. However, their appropriateness for the local context was not considered in the haste of achieving construction targets. For example, most of the 7.85 million toilets constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 94,205 million in the 15 extreme flood-prone districts of Northern Bihar become unusable during the annual floods.[75] Besides the toilet itself being inaccessible, the containment structure is also inundated with flood waters making it unusable.[75]

Survey results[edit]

Further, open defecation was never monitored by the mission, both the ministries kept a track of toilets constructed and funds spent.[69] The reality reported by independent surveys was very different from that reported by Government sponsored surveys.[76] Researchers also found divergence between findings of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS); both conducted by the Government only a few months apart.[69] The implausible target created incentives to distort the information, indeed the number of toilets constructed were inflated  as local officials faced intense pressure to meet the  targets.[73] Villages, districts, towns and cities and even states declared themselves open defecation free (ODF) based on achievement of construction targets.

Interconnected challenges[edit]

By adding millions of on-site sanitation systems and not considering fecal sludge management, it will further add to pollution of the rivers in India.[77]

There is skepticism about the success of SBM which relates to sanitation workers. In 2015, one year after the launch of the program, hundreds of thousands of Indian people were still employed as manual scavengers in emptying bucket toilets and pit latrines.[78][79][80] The people who make India clean, the sanitation workers, remain "invisible in the participation, process or consequences of this national level movement".[81]:7

The SBM missed the opportunity to address interconnected challenges together; namely the issue that untouchability and social inequality are important parts of why open defecation continues.[73]

A report by WSSCC in 2019 found that the impact of the SBM for the most vulnerable was limited. The report stated that "Barriers due to physical disabilities, social/economic disparities, geography, sexual orientation, gender and caste were not addressed."[82]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]