Sanitation and Hygiene – The Need of the Hour

The sky-high buildings. Flyovers crisscrossing the cities flooded with cars. How can one forget the skyrocketing malls and multiplexes that never let you feel bored and are gateways to pile on to your branded stuff! Wow! How pleasant!! Is this the true picture of the new urban India? Does it encompass all that one identifies with the Indian urban scene?

To get acquainted with the grim reality, one needs to look at facts and figures; India stands second amongst the worst places in the world for sanitation, around 40 million people reside in slums without adequate water supply and sanitation, an estimated 55 per cent of all Indians or close to 6oo million people, still do not have access to any kind of toilet. Moreover, India is losing billions of dollars each year because of poor sanitation facilities; illnesses prove to be costly for the poor families, and for the economy as a whole in terms of productivity losses and expenditures on medicines, health care, and funerals. These are only few of the several statistics that reveal the darker side of the story.

Sanitation and hygiene are the basic prerequisites for the development of any community. They ensure healthy life for all, which in turn becomes social and economic concern for increasing production and promoting good life. Though India is speedily escalating towards development, we need to realize that it is unaffordable for us to ignore the concerns of maintaining sanitation and hygiene.

Sanitation conditions are worsened due to variety of factors in urban spaces such as improper disposal of domestic garbage, inappropriate disposal of industrial effluents, unsafe disposal of medical wastes, non availability of defecating places for people staying in slums, paucity of sources of potable water for large population ranging from those residing in slum areas to other people who do menial jobs, lack of dustbins in public places.  Even if there are dustbins, people seldom use them.

Even in the urban areas where one presumes majority of populace to be educated, there’s a dire need to create awareness about the significance of sanitation and hygiene along with the ways of improving it, especially  amongst the slum dwellers and working class. Schools should make it compulsory to hold some kind of weekly sanitation classes that adopt a practical approach rather than being a mere definition.. Municipal bodies need to come up with more effective schemes for sewer disposal and better sanitation programmes. Government has formulated various policies such as National Urban Sanitation Policy etc for this purpose, but there is a   need to implement them sternly. Otherwise it may prove to be hazardous, leading to epidemics and diseases like malaria and so on, thereby hindering all constructive programmes. It is the need of the hour to take some strict measures in this regard before it is too late.

Reeti Mahobe