The Union Minister for Rural Development, Drinking Water & Sanitation and Panchayati Raj Shri Narendra Singh Tomar said that by 2nd October, this year, one lakh villages will become Open Defecation Free, ODF and 40 Districts will achieve the status of ODF Districts in this financial Year. Addressing a gathering at an event-INDOSAN (INDIA SANITATION CONFERENCE) here, inaugurated by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, he said, to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister had launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on 2nd October, 2014, after his historic address from the ramparts of the Red Fort on 15th August, 2014.
Shri Tomar said that the Central Government, State Governments, Municipal bodies, Panchayati Raj Institutions, NGOs, Spiritual and Religious leaders, Public Representatives, Educational Institutions and famous personalities from all walks of life have joined hands together to make India, a Clean India by 2nd October, 2019, the 50th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, as announced by the Prime Minister. Shri Tomar stressed that Swachh Bharat Mission is not a government programme, but it’s a people’s movement and there is need for behavioural change among the people as merely toilet construction will not be sufficient to achieve the ODF status.
Shri Tomar informed that the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is compiling the best practices from villages across the country and will bring it to the notice of the common man to emulate the same. The Minister expressed confidence that after Prime Minister’s address at the INDOSAN, the Swachh Mission will gain new momentum.
At present 87, 666 villages are ODF, apart from 1,544 villages in Namami Gange areas. This needs to be underlined that the sanitation coverage was 42.12 percent on 2nd October, 2014, when the programme was launched, which has now increased to 55.31 percent, while 24 Districts have been declared as ODF ones. Sikkim is the only State which has achieved the ODF status, and Kerala, Haryana, Gujrat and Maharashtra will soon achieve the ODF status.
On the occasion, the Minister also presented the award to Sindhudurd District of Maharashtra as best swachh district while, Patan in Gujrat bagged the award for best swachh iconic place. Gangtok in Sikkim was adjudged as the best Tourist Place in the country.