NEW DELHI, NOV 17: “No initiative encapsulates the growth of India as well as the Swachhata movement. Only 37% of India was Open Defecation Free (ODF) in 2014. By 2019, we had achieved near saturation through a record construction of toilets,” said Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Housing & Urban Affairs and Petroleum & Natural Gas.
He was speaking at an event organised by Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to celebrate ‘World Toilet Day’. Manoj Joshi, Secretary, MoHUA, Prof. Dr. Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organisation, Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director, USAID, representatives from Sulabh International, HUL, UNICEF, BMGF, ISC-FICCI, and senior officials from Government attended the event.
World Toilet Day, celebrated on 19th November every year, aims to help break taboos around toilets and make sanitation for all a global development priority. This day is significant for India as the toilets were the centre piece of India’s Swachhata movement that addressed myriad sanitation and hygiene concerns.
Referring to the increased focus of Government on sanitation since 2014, the Minister recalled the launch of the world’s largest sanitation initiative – Swachh Bharat Mission by the Prime Minister of India to achieve an Open Defecation Free India by October 2, 2019, as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
Speaking about the transformation of sanitation landscape in urban India through Swachh Bharat Mission, Puri noted the unprecedented rate of toilet construction under the Mission that have helped in achieving the audacious goal of ODF urban areas.
Puri said that the SBM-U stands as the largest behaviour change programme. It has become a Jan Andolan, and has received unprecedented public participation, he asserted.
The Minister spoke about how the mission has brought a positive change in lives of women, girls and the sanitation workers. The mission has promoted women-friendly toilets, formalised casual workers, and encouraged women-led enterprises in sanitation leading to empowerment of women and girls, he said. He also noted the focus brought by SBM on safety and dignity of sanitation workers.
The Housing & Urban Affairs Minister, acknowledged the need of scaling up of the work being done under the sanitation sector in India. He said, we want more and more civil society and NGOs to join us in our efforts to scale up this sanitation drive. The Minister also highlighted the importance of private sector in taking this movement to the next level.
Addressing the gathering, Puri emphasized that the sanitation and cleanliness is an area where you can touch the lives of people and impact will be really satisfying.