In his maiden Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi re-emphasised the NDA government’s focus on the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission and its target to provide every rural household with a toilet by 2019 — Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.
Taking off from where he had left off in his first speech in the Parliament on June 11 when he first talked about a cleaner India, Modi said the job needed public participation.
“Let us vow that in 2019 when we observe Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary, we will not let our village, city, country, school, colony, temple, hospital and all other areas remain dirty. It is not the government’s job, it is to be done by public participation,” he said. He also called on the corporate sector “to give priority to building toilets in schools through funds they spend on corporate social responsibility”.
While the budgetary allocation in this regard has been increased by 27% this year, around 67% of rural households still do not have access to toilets, making the Swachh Bharat mission a huge challenge for the government.
Modi called this mission one of his most important jobs as prime minister. “You might wonder why I am talking about toilets from the Red Fort..What kind of prime minister I am, but then I believe in it from my heart. I come from a poor family and I know that the honour for the poor is linked to toilets,” he said.
Modi announced that the Swachh Bharat campaign would be launched from October 2 and would be completed in four years. The PM also urged Indians to refrain from spreading filth. “If 1.2 billion people stopped doing that then no power in the world could make the villages and towns of the country dirty,” he said.