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The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS),together with the Department of Financial Services (DFS),today organized a workshop to accelerate‘Swachh Credit’ to increase lending in the water and sanitation (WASH) sectorby large banks and financial institutions, during the SwachhataPakhwada of DFS. The workshop was attended by senior representatives from major public and private sector banks, non-banking financial institutions, MFIs and development partners like UNICEF, World Bank and Water.org.
The participants were welcomed by Mr. Samir Kumar, Joint Secretary, MDWS, andMs. Vedika Bhandarkar, Managing Director, Water.org, who outlined the business case and the huge market opportunity of over Rs 80,000 crore for banks to lend for WASH. Ms Bhandarkar added that 20 lakh WASH loans worth Rs2,800 crores had already been disbursed in India in the past few years, with a repayment rate in excess of 99%.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, MDWS, spoke about the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) as a janandolanand highlighted the importance of financing and credit for retrofitting and upgrading toilets towards sustaining the gains made over the past four years. He said that water and sanitation are alreadya part of the priority sector lending framework of the Reserve Bank of India under the social infrastructure category of banking finance. He further underscored the role of water supply and infrastructure for solid and liquid waste management, and how financial institutions and banks could tap the large opportunity being created in these spheres.
Mr. Rajeev Kumar, Secretary, DFS,lauded the efforts of MDWS in accelerating sanitation coverage in India under the SBM, and strongly endorsed the importance of WASH lending. He announced the constitution of a special committee of bankers and sanitation experts to further scale upSwachh Credit. He also informed the gathering that all toilets in every branch of banks across the countryhad been instructed to be open to the general public, in addition to their customers.
An open house session was also held wherein the participants interacted with both Secretaries to Government of India, and highlighted their commitment to increasing the share of water and sanitation in their loans portfolios. Following the open house, case studies were presented by select banks, NBFCs and MFIs on the work being done by them on WASH lending.
The Swachh Bharat Mission has maderapid stridesin rural sanitation over the past four years, with sanitation coverage increasing from 39% in 2014 to over 98% today. 5.47 lakh villages, 600 districts and 27 States and UTs have already been declared Open Defecation Free. India is on track to achieve ODF status by 2nd October, 2019.