Rural and urban sanitation in India Upsc

Rural and Urban Sanitation in India

India has the largest number of malnourished people in the world. Malnourishment is not only because of food but also access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

These diseases such as water-borne diseases are related to huge morbidity and create a loss of working days. Safe water and sanitation are considered as most important social determinants of health.

Water-related illness creates one-third of diseases among adults and two-thirds among children. About one-third population which is 31% live in urban areas and three-fourths in rural areas. We need to consider rural and urban differently due to diverse conditions prevailing in these two different areas.

India is focused on making sure there is access to water and sanitation services to all. The Indian government has launched a flagship scheme, called Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) and so far over 12 million toilets have been constructed in rural areas.

Rural and Urban Sanitation Upsc

Sanitation refers to public health condition related to clean drinking water and disposal, treatment of human excreta and Sewage.Also promotion of hygiene and prevention of diseases by maintenance of sanitary conditions.


Rural Sanitation in India

Sanitation is primarily access to toilet facilities, safe drinking water, and a drainage system. It is also the absence of garbage or waste materials. According to the 2011 census, only 31% of rural households have access to toilets. There is only little growth from the 2001 census, which is 1% growth every year.

If this rate is continuous India will achieve complete sanitation only in 2081. Progress of rural sanitation is very slow and open defecation is a serious problem. Also, access to tap water and drainage facilities is also at 1/3 level. Also due absence of drainage facilities, such low-lying area gets flooded due to monsoon seasons.

Total Sanitation Campaign

Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) was launched in 1999 by the Ministry of Rural development as a community-led programme. There was also IEC i.e Information, Education, and Communication programme launch to educate the people, about the need for sanitation.

The increased toilet facility from the 2001 census to the 2011 census is due to the TSC campaign as per the planning commission (2013). In order to boost the sanitation programme the government launched Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) in 2005 in those Gram Panchayats, Blocks, and districts that attained 100% sanitation.

There were problems with the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) such as the Limited range of technology. Every region is different in geography, socio-economic conditions. Lack of convergence between water supply programme and TSC. As a result, this programme was not accepted in many parts.

The TSC programme was changed to a new strategy known as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA) in 2012 to eliminate convergence between drinking water and sanitation projects.

Urban Sanitation in India

Urban sanitation is better than rural areas. But one-third of the urban households do not have piped drinking water in 2011. Urban sanitation improved only 2% point from the 2001 census to the 2011 census.

Also, one-fifth of the urban households were not connected to drainage facilities. Also, one-fifth have no access to toilet facilities in urban areas. State-level variation in access to water and sanitation remains the same as seen in rural areas.

According to Census 2011, one-fifth of urban people live in slums. Slums add different dimensions to the sanitation and unhygienic conditions. It is not possible to have a toilet in every home in slums due to lack of space, as result to it, Public toilets were built for these people in big cities like Mumbai, Chennai, etc.

To provide water supply, drainage, sanitation, maintenance, etc. to these Public toilets is a big problem, and more efforts are needed by communities, NGOs, and urban local bodies. The problem of sanitation is increased due to the lack of a garbage collection system in some parts of the Urban.

In Urban areas, there is no garbage collection system and the waste is thrown open in the streets. Also, the sanitation in schools, public places, railway stations, etc. is also worse. Most of the railway stations and railroads are stinking places as human waste is released on the railroads. We need to design better rail coaches with good toilet facilities so that human waste is not thrown outside.

Water supply is necessary for sanitation. More water supply means more wastewater gets generation which in turn required good drainage and recycling facilities to handle large volumes.

In many areas drainage gets choked because throw garbage in drainage facilities. Thus sanitation is a larger issue in urban areas.

Policy regarding

Ministry of Urban Development formulated National Sanitation Policy in 2008. As per this policy, the state government is advised to prepare detailed state-level urban sanitation strategies and city sanitation plans. Urban sanitation is funded under Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM-II). In Urban sanitation policy, urban poor is the major problem.

The focus should be more on urban slums where maximum poor people in the city live. Planning Commission 2013, advised that to provide basic services to slums. As every individual has the right to access basic services to live with dignity and government must ensure it primarily. Women cannot use open spaces for basic natural needs, they need to wait for sunset and sunrise so that men cannot see them when doing their natural needs.

This control of natural needs causes a lot of health issues for them. The household belonging to SC/ST are deprived of water and sanitation. This is evidence from the census. Rural areas are more affected form sanitation and water supply lacking than cities, and towns. In a caste-based Indian society, sanitation fall on the shoulders of Scheduled Caste (SC) people.

By this, the union government banned Manual Scavenging in 2013 and those who employ manual scavenging will be imprisoned for up to 5 years. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan an initiative by the Union Government started on the day of Gandhi’s Birthday in the year 2014.

The enforcement of basic services should be guaranteed should be made an integral part of good governance.

Plan to reuse garbage and waste materials, this will create large jobs. Thus sanitation is the issue of waste management. Sewage water must be recycled for industrial and agricultural use. This requires a lot of capital. The state should initiate an integrated plan for each city and village. Sanitation is a local issue and any down methods will not work.

The local government should be made accountable with enough manpower, resources, empowerment, and strategy to deal with sanitation. Sanitation must be made as part of inclusive development. The areas, of SC, ST, and Muslim should not be excluded directly or indirectly. The whole community should work together to achieve the goal of Swachh Bharat.

Sanitation Programmes in India

  • Swachh Bharat Mission
  • National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)
  • WASH is Schools that includes Anganwadis (Preschools)
  • WASH in Health facilities


Nirmal Gram Puraskar

This is an initiative launched by the Government of India in 2003 and awarded first time in 2005. This award is to promote 100% sanitation in a village and the award is given to the Village Panchayat for their good word towards sanitation.

This initiative is from the Department of Drinking water supply and sanitation under the Ministry Of Rural Development to encourage the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to achieve full sanitation coverage.


This article is written for the topic ‘Rural and urban sanitation in India’ for Tnpsc and Upsc Exams. It post also useful for the state services exams.

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* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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