An opinion piece titled “Modi Govt’s Swachh Bharat achieved one thing. And it’s not open defecation free India: Survey” by Diane Coffey and Dean Spears (Executive Directors, r.i.c.e.)was published yesterday by The Print. Similar stories have been attempted multiple times by the authors, making misleading and outrageous statements with reference to the Swachh Bharat Mission based on incomplete, flawed, incorrect and - more often than not - non-existent data.
It may be noted that over the past 70 years, since Indian Independence, sanitation levels have been more or less stagnant across rural India,adversely impacting the life conditions of our people. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to take on the challenge of open defecation head on and gave the programme the highest level of political leadership, the Swachh Bharat Mission became a people’s movement and the rural sanitation situation across the country was successfully turned around in a period of five years. Unfortunately, these perennial critics have not been able to bring themselves to acknowledge these gains and,true to their habit of perpetuating theoretical critique, have always looked at the glass not just half, but fully empty. They have been trying to raise false doubts instead of providing solutions, and accepting, as the world has done, the overall success of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
The Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation would like to place on record its response to the claims made in the piece about the progress made under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen) and its position with respect to the lack of academic integrity shown by the authors in their attempt to mislead readers with biased and baseless statements.