New Delhi, Sep 29 (IANS) When Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced launching of ‘Swacch Bharat programme on August 15, 2014, it was a major initiative towards fulfilling the dream of Mahatma Gandhi.
Modi, who announced the programme in his first Independence Day address as the Prime Minister, cited how Mahatma Gandhi had laid immense stress on cleanliness and wanted the countrymen to pursue it.
Using the preaching of the Father of the Nation as inspiration, the Modi government launched the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) from October 2, 2014 with an aim to achieve open defecation free (ODF) India by October 2, 2019, when the country celebrates 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The programme involved providing access to toilet facilities to all rural households in the country.
The Swachh Bharat mission also aims at achieving 100 per cent scientific management of municipal solid waste in 4,041 statutory towns in the country.
As per Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry, over 9 crore toilets were constructed across the country till February 5 this year under the SBM-G launched, increasing the sanitation coverage in rural areas to over 98 per cent.
As a result, sanitation coverage in the rural areas of the country, which was 38.7 per cent on October 2, 2014, increased to more than 98 per cent, the Ministry said, adding 27 states, 601 districts, 5,934 blocks, 2,46,116 gram panchayats and 5,50,151 villages have been declared ODF.
The states and UTs, which have been declared ODF, are Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Pudducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand.
Other objectives of the mission including elimination of manual scavenging, modern and scientific municipal solid waste management, behavioral change regarding healthy sanitation practices, generate awareness about sanitation and its linkage with public health, capacity augmentation for Urban Local Bodies and to create an enabling environment for private sector participation in Capex (capital expenditure) and Opex (operation and maintenance).
The targets set for the mission, which are to be achieved by October 2 this year, include construction of 66.42 lakh individual household toilets (IHHL), 2.52 lakh community toilet (CT) seats, construction of 2.56 lakh public toilet (PT) seats, and achieving 100 per cent door-to-door collection and scientific management of municipal solid waste (MSW).
Modi received the prestigious ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ presented by the Gates Foundation this week in the US for pursuing the Swachh Bharat programme.
While receiving the award, he said the honour bestowed on him on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary is especially significant for him, as it shows people’s power – of the determination of 1.3 billion people to achieve any goal.
There were “different reactions” when, Modi said, he talked about “Swachh Bharat” mission in 2014. At that time, less than 40 per cent homes had toilets in the country, and now it is close to 100 per cent.
Citing a WHO report, Modi informed the US how his government through his ‘Clean India Mission’ helped save thousands of lives.
He cited a UNICEF study which said that every family with a toilet will be able to save Rs 50,000 a year, while a Bill and Melinda Gates report said that increase in sanitation has improved the BMI of women.
“I recall that Mahatma Gandhi said he believes that cleanliness is more important that independence. I am very happy that the dream of Mahatma Gandhi of cleanliness is going to become a reality,” Modi said.
Referring to “Swachh Bharat” mission, the Prime Minister said the main objective of the UN is to make peoples’ lives better and the Clean India Campaign plays an important role in achieving the UN goal.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)