Modi’s 1st ever scheme as PM gets Rs 15,000 crore boost; set to benefit 1.5 crore rural households

Swachh Bharat Mission — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first ever scheme for India has got a big boost as the Union Cabinet approved Rs 15,000 crore extra-budgetary resource for the scheme in the financial year 2018-19 through NABARD.

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the extra funds will be used to achieve open defecation-free (ODF) status in villages across the country by constructing toilets.

The additional funds are set to benefit 1.5 crore rural households that will be eligible under the Swachh Bharat Mission (gramin).

Swach Bharat was the first scheme announced by the Modi government on August 14, 2014, and was implemented on October 2, 2014, with an aim to make India open defecation free by October 2019. Gram panchayats identified for Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) are also set to benefit under the scheme.

So far, the government has completed 89.07% of its target by constructing 7,97,26,399 toilets in rural India, as per the Swachh Bharat Mission (gramin) real-time dashboard. Under the mission, while over 4 lakh villages all over India have been declared open defecation-free (ODF), five states — Tripura, Goa, Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh — continue to lag behind.

In the Budget 2018-19, the government allocated Rs 15,343 crore for the project, which was 9% lower than the revised estimate of 2017-18. With additional Rs 15,000 crore, this financial year could see highest ever allocation for the scheme. In 2017-18, the government allocated Rs 13,948 crore, which was increased to Rs 16,948 crore as revised estimate.

While money spent on the scheme has increased each year — Rs 2,841 crore in FY15; Rs 6,703 in FY16; Rs 10,484 in FY17; Rs 16,948 crore in FY18 — the total funds allocated to the scheme is low when compared to other centrally sponsored schemes, PRS legislative said in an analysis. Moreover, the cost of building toilets has also gone up from Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000. There have also been some ground reports of faulty implementation of the scheme in some districts and cases where people were found using household toilets as kitchens or grocery stores.

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