'Swachh Bharat's success inspiring other nations'

'Swachh Bharat's success inspiring other nations'

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention (MGISC), at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

With accolades coming from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said that Swachh Bharat mission was not only transforming India, but also encouraging other nations to prioritise sanitation programmes.

“Our hard work (to make Swachh Bharat mission a success) is spreading new hope and fresh enthusiasm around the world,” Modi said at the concluding session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Cultural Centre.

He shared the “success story” of Swachh Bharat mission and mooted a mantra of four Ps— “Political Leadership, Public Funding, Partnerships and People’s Participation”— for a similar success of sanitation programmes elsewhere around the world.

He was joined by UN secretary general on the podium, when he addressed the convention, which had ministers and delegates from over 60 nations.

Guterres lauded Modi for making the elimination of open defecation a priority at the highest level as well as throughout his government.

He said that Clean India (Swachh Bharat) mission built on the genius of Mahatma Gandhi is the lifelong quest for human dignity.

He noted that the Swachh Bharat mission was not only the largest investment, but the largest campaign of people’s mobilisation in this area around the world.

“It is inspiring to see the international community come together around this important issue. It is essential that we are ready to break taboos and speak out when lives are at stake, even on the most sensitive matters,” the UN secretary general said.

The Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention was designed to present the “success story” of the Swachh Bharat mission as a global model.

The concluding ceremony of the convention, on Tuesday, marked not only the fourth anniversary of the launch of the mission, but also the beginning of the 150th birth anniversary of the “Father of the Nation”.

Modi noted that Indians had made up for 60% of people who defecated in open around the world in 2014.

But, four years after the launch of the Swachh Bharat mission, the percentage had now come down to just 20%.

The government noted that the national sanitation coverage was at 39% when the mission was launched in 2014 and It has now gone up to 95%.

Besides, it added, 503 of India’s 699 districts, 3,622 of 4,041 urban local bodies and 4,87,445 villages had been declared open-defecation free.

About 85-million rural households and six-million urban households had begun to use toilets for the first time after the launch of the programme in October 2014.

“An estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide still do not have basic sanitation facilities, I believe that what’s happening in India is quickly changing the statistics, almost 1 billion still practice open defecation,” Guterres said.

“All people have the right to safe water and sanitation. If we are to build resilient societies on a healthy planet and achieve the overarching ambition of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we must tackle this issue urgently, as is being done in India,” he said.