The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Economic Survey 2018-19 in Parliament today. The Economic Survey has outlined the progress made in the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) that was initiated in 2014 to achieve universal sanitation coverage by 2nd October 2019. This flagship programme is one of the largest cleanliness drive as well as an attempt to effect behavioural change in the world. Through SBM, 99.2 per cent of rural India has been covered in the last four years. Since October 2014, over 9.5 crore toilets have been built all over the country and 564,658 villages have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). As on 14 June 2019, 30 States/UTs are 100 per cent covered with Individual household Latrine (IHHL). SBM has significantly improved health outcomes.
SBM has helped reduce diarrhea and malaria among children below five years, still birth and low birth weight (new born with weight less than 2.5 kgs). This effect is particularly, pronounced in districts where IIHL coverage was lower is 2015. SBM is one of the largest cleanliness drives in the world and has brought in a remarkable transformation and traceable health benefits. The focus under this mission has not just been on construction of toilets but also on effecting a behavioral change in the communities. The result has been substantial gains in health parameters as shown by various studies. The gains from the cleaner India are important inputs, directly as well as indirectly, for achieving broader economic development objectives.