Who's the Cleanest of Them All? Sanitation Scores in Indian Cities

Environment and Urbanization, 27(1):117-136, 2015

26 Pages Posted: 24 May 2014 Last revised: 15 Apr 2015

See all articles by Sridhar Vedachalam

Sridhar Vedachalam

Environmental Policy Innovation Center

Susan Riha

Cornell University

Date Written: January 16, 2015


Urban India is struggling to provide adequate water and sanitation services to its citizens. Open defecation, insufficient wastewater treatment, and mixing of untreated wastewater with stormwater and drinking water supplies are contributing to a severe health and economic crisis. Recent government measures such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and National Urban Sanitation Policy (NUSP) are steps in the right direction. We draw on sanitation scores awarded to 421 cities under NUSP to identify factors that explain the heterogeneity in city-level scores. Our estimates suggest the higher scores are partly a result of city location. Population is non-linearly associated with sanitation score. Consistent with recent literature, we show that increased presence of household toilets does not impact city-level sanitation outcomes. Further, smaller cities perform differently than medium and large cities, pointing to a need for customized policy prescriptions for different classes of cities, preferably designed by municipal governments.

Keywords: India, National Urban Sanitation Policy, sanitation score, urban

JEL Classification: D78, I18, Q28

Suggested Citation

Vedachalam, Sridhar and Riha, Susan, Who's the Cleanest of Them All? Sanitation Scores in Indian Cities (January 16, 2015). Environment and Urbanization, 27(1):117-136, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2431449 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2431449

Sridhar Vedachalam (Contact Author)

Environmental Policy Innovation Center

777 6th St NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

Susan Riha

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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