UN expert finds loopholes in Swachh Bharat Mission, Centre slams him

New Delhi: A top visiting United Nations expert, Leo Heller, on Saturday criticised India’s Swachh Bharat Mission for not addressing the “human rights principles” in its implementation.

However, the Centre was quick enough to make a rebuttal stating, the special rapporteur’s “rambling report” was replete with “inaccuracies, sweeping generalizations and biases”.

At the end of his two-week visit to India, UN’s expert noted that the implementation of “open defecation free” programme should also take care of “human rights” and expressed concern that efforts for providing access to water had taken a back seat of sanitation, reported NDTV.

“The right to water and the right to sanitation are distinct but integrated rights. Just as water and sanitation services go hand in hand, the rights to access water and sanitation must be addressed as a package,” Mr Heller said.

He pointed out the “cancellation of ration cards” and “power cut” of people by officials for not building toilets at home as “aggressive and abusive practices”.

“The Indian Government’s emphasis on constructing toilets should not overshadow the focus of drinking water provision for all and it should not involuntarily contribute to violating fundamental rights of others,” Mr Heller said.

Pointing out the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s logo of Mahatma Gandhi’s lenses, Mr Heller said: “In its third year of implementation, now is a critical time to replace the lens of those glasses with the human rights lens.”