Around 450 million people, which is half the world’s population defecating in the open are in India, a top government official said on Friday, but exuded confidence that the country will be free from this problem as Swachh Bharat Mission is becoming a “people’s movement”.
“About 450 million people practice open defection in India, this is half of the world’s population which are defecating in open. We have long way to go and behavioural change is the way forward. With progress of the mission (SBM) so far, I am optimistic that the country will become open defection free,” Centre’s drinking water and sanitation secretary Parameswaran Iyer said.
Speaking at the launch of Zila Swachh Bharat Preraks, an initiative under Swachh Bharat Mission with the help of Tata Trusts, he said this cadre of skilled young professionals will support district officials in achieving the objective of overall sanitation in their respective districts.
Asserting that sanitation is of utmost importance for this country where 13% children die due to diarrhoea, Iyer said SBM is high on the agenda of the Prime Minister and it is “taking shape of people’s movement”.
Addressing the event, Tata Trust chairman Ratan Tata said he is privileged to be part of this movement and added, “I am excited that these young professionals who are recruited as Zila Swachh Bharat Preraks will get a chance to express themselves and to be part of this programme to making India cleaner.”
Complementing Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Swachh Bharat Mission, he said Tata Trust is committed in working with the government on this “visionary programme”.
Tata Trust will recruit and pay salaries of the 600 young professionals, who will work with the administration of respective district to spread awareness about sanitation and achieving the objectives of SBM.
Thanking Tata for helping in the SBM, Union rural development minister Narendra Singh Tomar said more corporates should come forward and become part of this movement for clean India.