We are godliness surplus, but cleanliness deficit country: Jairam Ramesh

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Jairam Ramesh ropes in Vidya Balan for a campaign to make India open defecation free in next 10 years

Prakhar Jain 
New Delhi

Photo: Ankit Agrawal

Sanitation is in limelight again. Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, on Friday September 28, 2012 announced a 51-day Nirmal Bharat Yatra, which would travel through five states and reach nine crore people spreading awareness about sanitation facilities and practices. The Yatra would begin from Wardha in Maharashtra on 3 October and would travel to Indore, Kota, Gwalior and Gorakhpur before culminating in Bettiah, Bihar on 19 November.

Speaking to the press on the occasion, Jairam Ramesh said, “We are godliness surplus, but cleanliness deficit country. We have to change this and the Yatra tries to make sanitation a national obsession.” Exuding confidence that India would become open defecation free in next 10 years, he also declared that Kerala would become open defecation free by the end of this year, while Himachal will achieve the target by April 2013. Haryana and Tamil Nadu will follow next.

The Yatra, which would resemble a carnival, will have a crew of 500 people traveling in 40 buses who would engage the locals through various activities and performances. The aim would be to make people aware about the benefits of using a toilet, washing hands after using the toilet and menstrual hygiene management.

Actor Vidya Balan, who was also present during the launch, released three video advertisements on sanitation, which would go on air the day Yatra takes off. One of the videos appreciates the concern of a bride who revolted against her husband for not having toilet in his house. Commenting on the ads, Vidya said, “We’ll have to inspire more and more people to make their individual contribution and make the country open defecation free.”

Around 60 percent of all open defecation in the world takes place in India and nearly five lakh kids under the age of five die every year because of diarrhea. To address the adverse affects caused due to open defecation by promoting toilets, the government of India launched a program called Total Sanitation Campaign in year 1999. After only partial success of the programme till recently, it has now been launched afresh as Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan with increased central government’s assistance for construction of toilets.

Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka. 
[email protected]

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