- The agreement to build 50,000 toilets will impact over 2.5 lakh people
- Bharti Foundation will invest up to Rs 30 crore to construct 20,000 toilets
- The foundation has already constructed around 17,628 toilets in Ludhiana
New Delhi: The Punjab government signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, to jointly build over 50,000 toilets for rural households in Amritsar district, which would directly impact over 2.5 lakh people. This collaboration is part of the Bharti Foundation’s ‘Satya Bharti Abhiyan’ initiative to join the government’s efforts in providing sanitation and health under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. As per the agreement, the Bharti Foundation will invest up to Rs. 30 crore for the construction of 20,000 toilets in four blocks of Amritsar district – Chogawan, Majitha, Ajnala and Harsha Chhina. While, the remaining 30,000 toilets will be provided by the Punjab government’s Department of Water Supply and Sanitation in another five blocks Attari, Jandiala, Rayya, Tarsika and Verka. Earlier, the Punjab Government in collaboration with the Bharti Foundation has already constructed over 17,628 toilets to cover all households in 928 villages of Ludhiana district, which has benefitted more than 86,000 people. Notably, Ludhiana is one of the nine districts in the state which are open defecation free.
Punjab is the only state in the country which is working in collaboration with a private organisation for contributing to the Swachh Bharat Mission, an official spokesperson of the Punjab government said. As per this initiative, fully functional toilets will be provided to the beneficiaries and they will not be charged for the cost of construction.
In addition to providing sanitation facilities, the foundation also focusses on sensitising the rural population on the importance of using a toilet and adopting healthy sanitation practices. And to spread awareness among the beneficiaries on the proper usage and maintenance of toilets, the foundation and government would use diverse channels of communication, ranging from interactive banners to energetic rallies and Gram Sabhas. School children will also act as agents of change to inculcate and promote good practices of sanitation and hygiene.
The initiative will be supported by grants from two group companies – Bharti Airtel Limited and Bharti Infratel Limited, said Vijay Chadda, CEO, Bharti Foundation.
In 2014, while speaking at the Banega Swachh India 12-hour cleanathon, Vijay Chadda had said that the foundation has committed Rs. 100 crores to build toilets in India.
On behalf of Water supply and Sanitation Department of Punjab, Director Mr. Ashwani Kumar and on behalf of Bharti Foundation, Chief Executive Officer Mr. Vijay Chadda signed the MoU.
Commenting on this agreement, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Co-Chairman, Bharti Foundation said that the Public-Private Partnership model has proven to be an effective approach to promote inclusive and sustainable development.
We are happy to be partnering with the district administration of Amritsar and the Government of Punjab to contribute towards alleviating the challenges of sanitation in the district. With the signing of this MoU, I am confident that our joint efforts would help us realise the dream of a healthier and cleaner Punjab, Mr Mittal further added.
In the Swachh Survekshan 2017, in which a total of 434 cities were surveyed on the basis of their cleanliness and sanitation drive, Amritsar scored 258th position. Unfortunately, Amritsar also has the lowest Individual Household Latrine (IHHL) coverage in Punjab at 55.34 percent, whereas Ludhiana is the top performer at 99.85 percent.
Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014, a total of 207845 (over 2 lakh) toilets got built in Punjab, out of which 21,281 were constructed in the year 2016-17.