While unveiling the Clean India campaign last October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed nine celebrities as ambassadors and gave a call to corporations and philanthropists to contribute to the programme. The next month, his government created a treasure chest, called the Swachh Bharat Kosh, to channel funds from the private sector towards the scheme.

As an impetus, it was announced that Modi would personally encourage donations of more than Rs 20 crore from private companies and of over Rs 1 crore by individuals. And, finally, the contributions were granted 100% tax exemption.

As it turns out, Modi’s calls and concessions have gone largely unheeded.

A year on, the Swachh Bharat Kosh has received donations worth just Rs 350 crore. This is a fraction – 1/28th to be precise – of the programme’s budget of Rs 9,838 crore for building toilets and promoting latrine use, primarily in rural areas.

The largest donation so far has come not from a corporate house, but Mata Amritanandamayi, the "hugging saint" of Kerala who is known to her followers as Amma, said a senior official who administers the Swachh Bharat Kosh. On September 11, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley personally acknowledged her Rs 100 crore donation in Kollam, Kerala.

The senior official said another big contribution has been the Rs 20 crore given by public sector unit Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited.

The Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Airtel Limited and Bharti Infratel Limited, has committed Rs 100 crore towards improving rural sanitation. But, instead of giving to the Swachh Bharat Kosh, the group is spending the money on building 6,639 toilets in 210 villages of Ludhiana in Punjab, the home district of Bharti chairman Sunil Mittal. In Ludhiana, just 12% of rural households defecate in the open, one of the lowest rates in north India. Against this, 67% of rural households defecate in the open in India, as per the 2011 census.

Shrinking budget

While announcing the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan last year, Modi said one of its key aims was to eliminate open defecation by 2019. At first, the government announced that it will build a toilet for every household that did not have one. It proposed to spend Rs 1.34 lakh crore to construct 11.11 crore toilets in rural areas and about Rs 62,000 crore in 4,041 cities.

Added up, this would have amounted to around Rs 2,00,000 crore over five years – that is, nearly ten times the previous budget.

But in 2015-’16, the budget for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme was reduced from Rs 11,000 crore in 2014-15 (under the previous United Progressive Alliance government) to Rs 2,611 crore. At the same time, just Rs 3,625 crore was allocated for Swachh Bharat mission, which was lower than the UPA government’s Rs 4,260 crore outlay for a similar project, the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.

Budget allocations.

When this turned out to be inadequate, and the Modi government had to increase the allocations in the supplementary budget in August. It provided an additional Rs 2,685 crore for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme and Rs 6,243 crore for Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The allocation still comes to Rs 96 crore less than the 2014-'15 allocation under the UPA’s programmes.

Now, the ball in the states’ court. With central funds slashed, and the Swachh Bharat Kosh failing to elicit corporations to sufficiently loosen purse strings, they will have to spend more per toilet than they did under UPA’s Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.