While India is making significant strides in the Water and Sanitation sector, what is needed is holistic approach and public participation in sustainability of outcomes, say experts.
They were speaking at the two-day thematic seminar on Water and Sanitation. The event was hosted by Ministry of Finance in collaboration with Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) as knowledge partner in partnership with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Mahratta Chamber of Commerce Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA).
Given Pune’s importance of successful intervention in sanitation, this city has been selected for hosting the two-day deliberations which began yesterday. The thematic Conference on Water and Sanitation is one of the lead-up events to the AIIB’s Third Annual Meeting to be held this month in Mumbai.
The panel discussions included various experts deliberating on topics including efficient water management, drinking water, sanitation infrastructure and waste management, financing and regulatory issues amongst others. Parameshwaran Iyer, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation,, Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder Sulabh International, Seshadri Chari, Member Governing Council, RIS, Dr Kumar V Pratap Joint Secretary (IPF) Ministry of Finance, Government of India, Professor Amitabh Kundu , Distinguished Fellow, RIS and ex Dean JNU , Mukund Vasudevan Co-chair FICCI Water Mission and Jyoti Vij Deputy Secretary General FICCI were present on the occasion.
Mr Iyer, in his lead presentation, discussed how Swachh Bharat Mission has made significant changes in the sanitation sector with pioneering bold initiatives by various states to tackle the menace of open defecation.
The biggest game changer was Prime Minister Narendra Modi putting Swachh Bharat on the top of the development agenda, he said.
Over 7.5 crores toilets have been built in last 3.5 years. 3.7 lakh villages, 385 districts and 17 states have been declared open defecation free, he added.
Dr Pratap said that water is unique amongst all the infrastructure sectors with 85 per cent water utilities worldwide being publicly owned and operated. It is a difficult sector for private players to get in- worldwide and minimum private investment has come in water and sewage sector. In India cost recovery is less than 20% in urban areas which is a challenge.