Sanitation deprivation in India is one of the equity-related planning challenges especially in urban areas where colonial planning principles and policies continue to perpetuate open defecation seven decades after Independence.
Sanitation Deprivation and consequent open defecation in India is a multifaceted challenge with multidimensional implications on economy, environment, health and society. India is home to the world’s largest population of open defecators. Spending millions from public funds on Centre, State, Local schemes remains futile as emphasis remains on the construction of toilet.
The result and key findings of the project are an outcome of comprehensive, exhaustive qualitative and empirical analysis augmented by geospatial modelling, stakeholder consultations and critique of prior and pre-existing policy and institutional frameworks.
In spite of being a human right, sanitation deprivation and open defecation is a mundane reality of India. It is an outcome of several factors, critical to which is the inadequate or complete absence of the sanitation system. This deprivation is an indicator of poverty, and also a major factor contributing to poverty that is manifested spatially.
Access to adequate or any form of sanitation is denied to many in India until a major outbreak is struck. Ad-hoc approach to managing the crisis is thence followed.
Indian planners’ have an elitist, restrictive and colonial view of sanitation, excluding any discussion on open defecation in master plans. For them, sanitation deprivation relates to an extension of the sewerage network and allocation of land for various sanitation related infrastructure, including sewage treatment plants, pumping stations, etc. Sectoral policies, on the other end, emphasize on the provision of toilets as a mean to tackle evils of sanitation deprivation. No connect or attempts of it can be found between the two.
The root cause of sanitation deprivation is linked with the limited scope and colonial roots of urban sanitation policies, perpetuating sanitation deprivation. The task at hand is uphill and a radical change in the current approach is required for realizing the dream of open defecation free India.
The project has developed an innovative multi-levelled methodology, corresponding set of indicators and metrics to evaluate community wellbeing in terms of sanitation. It has certain short-term and long-term impacts on the behaviour of citizens and policymakers, bureaucracy and implementing agencies, environment, economy, productivity and public health of citizens and city alike.
It identifies need of a collaborative real-time platform to monitor the extent of open defecation and sanitation deprivation on-ground across cities and regions of similar background. The platform will also bring in technology and cost-effective design solutions to local levels, for effective elimination of open defecation through the systemic interaction of people, government and providers.