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State ministers to evolve strategy for a ‘Clean India’

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New Delhi :  State ministers in charge of drinking water and sanitation will meet here Monday to undertake a review of the progress in the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) and evolve a strategy for speedy implementation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mission of ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India) by 2019.

The review meeting convened by the drinking water and sanitation ministry will also take stock of the “Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan” launched in the first year of the 12th five year plan and the factors behind its failure.

Despite 64 years of rural development, 60 percent of India’s rural population defecate in the open, either due to lack of toilets, lack of their operation and maintenance due to absence of water or inappropriate technology and with no scientific mode of digesting the waste, leading to rural men questioning the usefulness of toilets.

Only 32 percent of rural families in 2011 (as per census figures) and 40 percent (National Sample Survey Organisation figures of 2013) have rural toilets.

From over 12 million toilets to be built annually prior to 2011-12, the figure has come down to below five million per year now.

States have also carried out a baseline survey in 2012-13, from which it is clear that out of the 171.9 million rural households in the country, about 111.1 million households do not have latrines.

The fact that 88.4 million are eligible for the incentives, toilets have not been built. More than 20 million families who were given subsidy and financial incentive under the programme do not have functional toilets today.

Prime Minister Modi personally expressed anguish in his Independence Day speech, and expressed the commitment of his government to achieve ‘Swachh Bharat’ by 2019 by eliminating the unhealthy practice of open defecation.

Rural Development, Drinking water and Sanitation Minister Nitin Gadkari has directed that scientifically proven solid and liquid waste management activities be launched in in each gram panchayat.

Modi has also directed that every school in India has to be provided with toilets separately for boys and girls by Aug 15, 2015.

A two-day exhibition has organised here Aug 26-27 to look into newer options which use less water, apply rural pots which save water and biological waste treatment methods.

In response to the direct appeal from the prime minister, some corporate houses are coming forward to participate in the ‘Swacch Bharat Abhiyan’ through the corporate social responsibility (CSR) route.

Gadkari has urged state governments to ensure that they have a robust implementation mechanism for the sanitation scheme down to the gram panchayat level.

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