Status Update: Will Centre Achieve or Miss 'New India' Targets for 2022?
Here's a data-based insight on where does Centre stand in the 10 targets it aims to achieve by 2022
The Centre has set several policy targets for 2022, the year India will complete 75 years of independence. In August 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to take a pledge to create a 'New India' by 2022. "Let us pledge to free India from poverty, dirt, corruption, terrorism, casteism, communalism & create a 'New India' of our dreams by 2022," Modi's tweet read.
Let us pledge to free India from poverty, dirt, corruption, terrorism, casteism, communalism & create a 'New India' of our dreams by 2022. pic.twitter.com/x4zbaxGKkN— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 9, 2017
In December 2018, public policy think tank NITI Aayog released its 'Strategy for New India @75' document, which listed the Centre's policy targets in four sections: drivers, infrastructure, inclusion and governance for 2022-23. FactChecker looked into policies aimed to achieve targets in 2022 and checked their status as the target year begins.
1. Housing and amenities for all
NITI Aayog set an objective to "provide every family with a pucca house, with water connection, toilet facilities and 24x7 electricity supply and access" by 2022. It added that it aims to build 2.95 crore housing units in rural and 1.2 crore in urban areas.
While rural housing scheme have been active in India since Independence, the target was announced under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G), which was launched in 2016. It provides assistance of Rs 1.2 lakh per unit in plain areas and Rs 1.3 lakh per unit in hilly areas to either homeless families or to those who live in kutcha houses. On December 8, 2021, the Cabinet approved the extension of the scheme to March 2024 as the Centre needed more time to meet the target.
Initially, the government decided to build 1 crore houses in three years (2016-17 to 2018-19). According to the NITI Aayog, around 76.68 lakh rural houses were built during in the first two of these years. As on December 9, 2021, 1.66 crore of the 2.95 crore targeted rural houses had been constructed. Moreover, the Centre has released over Rs 1.48 lakh crore to states and construction of 1.82 crore rural houses was projected to be completed by 2021-22, but more than 2.4 lakh landless beneficiaries (of 4.4 plus lakh) are yet to be provided land by the government.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U), the Centre has sanctioned 1.14 crore of the targeted 1.2 crore houses. Of these, 89.62 lakh houses are grounded for construction by December 6, 2021 and less than half or 52.88 lakh houses have been constructed.
2. Making India Open Defecation Free
The Centre, in October 2019, claimed that rural India became open defecation free (ODF) and about 10.79 crore toilets had been constructed in the country under Swachh Bharat Mission-Grameen. Under SBM-Urban, the Centre had two prime objectives: achieve 100% ODF status and 100% scientific processing of municipal solid waste (MSW) being generated in the country. In December 2019, it announced that all 35 States and Union territories, except 52 Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in West Bengal, had been declared ODF.
The Centre defines ODF as termination of faecal-oral transmission by ensuring that no visible faeces is found anywhere and every household and institution uses safe technology option for disposal of faeces.
But, according to National Family Health Survey-5, states and Union territories such as Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Ladakh have, not 100% but 42%-60% of population using improved sanitation facilities. Moreover, a July 2021 joint monitoring programme by the World Health Organization and UNICEF titled 'Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene 2000-2020 – Five Years into the SDGs' stated that at least 15% of the total population in India defecates in the open.
While rural sanitation has improved from 37% (NFHS-4) to 65% (NFHS-5) and urban sanitation has improved from 70% to 82%, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in 2020 launched ODF+ and ODF++. These schemes are aimed at ensuring sustainability of ODF status to ensure proper maintenance of toilet facilities and safe collection, conveyance, treatment and disposal of all faecal sludge and sewage.
3. Health and Nutrition
Status: Under Prime Minister's Overarching Scheme for Holistic Nutrition or POSHAN Abhiyan, the government targeted reduction of prevalence of stunting and underweight to 25% or less, anaemia among young children to 43% or less and anaemia among adolescent girls and women (age 15-49) to 38% or less by 2022-23.
While the figures for anaemic children and women have worsened, the prevalence of stunting and underweight children are far from achieving the target. While stunting has reduced from 38.4% (NFHS-4) to 35.5% (NFHS-5), percentage of underweight children has slipped from 35.8% to 32.1%. More children and women are anaemic now. In 2014-15, 58.6% children were anaemic in India, which increased to 67.1% in 2019-20. Among women it became more prevalent too: 53.1% in 2014-15 and 57% in 2019-20.
4. Eradicating manual scavenging
Manual scavenging is prohibited under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, with effect from December 6, 2013. The Centre, in December 2021, told the Lok Sabha that they have been able to achieve the target of abolishing manual scavenging. The government has also repeatedly claimed that no person in India is engaged in manual scavenging and no manual scavenger has died. But official records show otherwise.
In the last five years, more than 58,000 people have been identified as manual scavengers and 340 deaths have been reported among them. Of these, 22 people died cleaning sewers in 2021.
FactChecker, in July 2021, had verified a claim by Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Ramdas Athawale when he said no manual scavenger had died in the country in the last five years. While an official from the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis maintained that there is a difference between manual scavengers and sewer cleaners, union workers and activists working for the rights of manual scavengers believed there wasn't.
Moreover, union workers FactChecker spoke to said many categories of manual scavengers, like domestic sanitation workers who work in residential and commercial areas, were missed out in the 2013 Act. They also pointed out that NCSK's 2019-20 Annual Report, which listed only 42,303 manual scavengers, was done in 18 states/UTs. "The fact that this survey was just done in selective states shows that this was not a nationwide survey. The number of manual scavengers in the whole country needs to be enumerated clearly," Pragya Akhilesh, secretary of Bhim Safai Karmachari Trade Union, told FactChecker in July 2021.
5. Doubling farmers income by 2022
To examine farmers' concerns, the Centre constituted an Inter-ministerial Committee in April 2016 to double farmers income by 2022. The average income of agricultural households has increased by 59% – from Rs 6,426 in 2013 to Rs 10,218 in 2018, according to the National Statistical Office's (NSO) Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households and Land and Livestock Holdings of Households in Rural India (SAS) 2019 survey, released on September 10, 2021. But when the 2016 committee was formed, the average income of a farmer household was Rs 8,931. This means, from 2016-2018, there has been an increase of 14.4%.
However, the survey also found that income varied significantly between farming households by the size of land holding, ranging from Rs 7,500 to Rs 61,000. Further, SAS 2019 also reported that the average outstanding loan of farmers had increased by 58%.
6. Sustainable environment
The Centre has two objectives under this: 1) Bring down PM 2.5 levels in cities to under 50 and eliminate crop residue burning and, 2) Increase forest cover to 33% of country's geographical area.
Further, PM 2.5 levels spiked in various cities during December each year. For instance, Delhi's air quality slipped to 'severe' category, with the city recording PM 2.5 levels between 400-500 during certain days of December, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR). Moreover, India recorded the world's highest annual average concentration of PM 2.5 exposure in its air in 2019, according to the State of Global Air 2020 report. It further added that two-thirds of the most polluted cities, or 21 out of 30, are in India with Delhi having an annual average of 98.6 PM2.5 ranked as the most polluted national capital in the world, according to the 2019 World Air Quality Report by IQAir AirVisual.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the following 2020 report showed improvements, but then too Delhi (84.1 annual average PM2.5 levels) remained to be the most polluted city in the world.
When asked for the top five states recording highest pollution levels during the last five years in March 2021 in the Rajya Sabha, the then Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Babul Supriyo said the ranking of cities based on air quality is not done due to "complexity of various parameters and their influence on the air quality of individual cities". He added that 124 non-attainment cities were identified based on air quality data. Although bringing down PM 2.5 levels to less than 50% is mentioned to be a 2022 target in the NITI Aayog report, the Centre in 2017, launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) to achieve 20%-30% reduction in PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels by 2024.
Further, FactChecker, in November had explained the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi's air pollution. As per government data, 7% to 48% of pollution was due to the contribution of stubble burning in Delhi.
Currently, the total forest cover of the country is 7.12 lakh sq km which is 21.67% of the total geographic area of the country, shows India State of Forest Report 2019. Once tree cover is added, the total green cover accounts for 24.6% of the country's area, which is still not close to the target.
7. Human Resource for Health: The Centre's aim was to achieve a doctor-population ratio of at least 1: 1,400 (WHO norm 1:1,000) and nurse population ratio of at least 1:500 (WHO norm 1:400) by 2022-23. At present, the nurse-patient ratio is 1.7 nurses per 1000 population while the doctor-patient ratio is 1:1,404.
8. Female Labour Participation Rate: The Centre targeted to enhance female labour participation rate to at least 30% by 2022-23. The female labour force participation rate in India fell to 20.3% in 2019 from more than 26% in 2005, show World Bank estimates. The COVID-19 pandemic further affected the female labour force rate to 16.1% during July-September 2020 quarter, lowest among major economies, reported Reuters citing a report from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.
9. Education: In 2016-17, the Centre set a target to increase gross enrolment rate (GER) in higher education to 35% by 2022-23 from 25% then. The All India Survey on Higher Education 2019-20 report shows that although GER in higher education has increased to 27.1%, but it's still far from achieving its target of 35%.
10. Renewable Energy: The Centre aims to achieve 175 GW of renewable energy generation capacity by December 2022. At Conference of Parities (COP) 21, India had committed to achieving 40% of its installed electricity capacity from non-fossil energy sources by 2030. On December 28, 2021, the Centre announced that India had already achieved that target in November 2021. The country's installed renewable energy capacity stands at 150.54 GW, while its nuclear energy based installed electricity capacity stands at 6.78 GW. This brings the total non-fossil based installed energy capacity to 157.32 GW which is 40.1% of the total installed electricity capacity of 392.01 GW.
Now, the Centre aims to achieve 500 GW of installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030.