Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday called upon his compatriots to start “swacchagraha”, a movement to make India free from dirt—on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi’s illustrious satyagraha that led the country to free itself from imperialism.
“Like there was satyagraha to free us from colonialism, today there has to be Swachhagraha to make India free from dirt,” he said at the inauguration of an India-Sanitation conference to mark the second anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
The Rs 1.96 lakh-crore flagship programme of the NDA government, launched by the PM on October 2, 2014, aims to clean up public spaces and make India free of open defecation by 2019.
On Friday, the PM noted that India had achieved independence seven decades ago, but lamented that no government talked of sanitation issues. Modi called upon the people to change their mindset.
“When relatives come, people clean up their homes. But the same people go and dump garbage in any open space available. This attitude needs to change,” he said.
Modi said that though reuse and recycling have been a part of Indian habits for a long now, people need to make these more technology-driven. “If we start treating waste as wealth, then waste will end up becoming a byproduct,” Modi said.
The PM also gave away the Swachhata awards to ten organisations, institutions, municipalities and districts that have promoted sanitation practices and become open defecation-free. The organizations include National Cadet Corps, Surat railway station, PGIMER Chandigarh, Sindhudurg and Mandi districts, Chandigarh and Mysore municipalities.
“I can see a very healthy competition when it comes to cleanliness. This is a good practice. The competition will egg on other cities and towns to do better,” Modi said.
The media also came in for praise from the PM for furthering the cause of cleanliness. “The media has done more than me in promoting cleanliness. And, they have done it very positively,” he said.
Modi further added that budget allocations alone cannot further cleanliness. “I have also suggested to information & broadcasting minister Venkaiah Naidu to explore the possibility of having a special news capsule featuring sanitation-related matters once or twice a day on Doordarshan and AIR,” he added.
However, two years after the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched, findings on the ground are not very impressive. A recent National Sample Survey Organization revealed that 44% of the villages surveyed did not have drainage infrastructure in place, while in 63% wards had houses that lacked liquid-waste disposal system for toilets.
As for the 1.09 crore toilets built in first 11 months of 2015-16, 52% people in rural areas and 7.55% in urban areas are using them, the survey found.