New Delhi: ‘In 2014, India had 55 crore people defecating in the open and today that number has been reduced to 20 crore. Today, around 35 crore people have access to a toilet. It is a big achievement, our country is currently witnessing a sanitation revolution,’ says Secretary Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Param Iyer at the National Dialogue on Satyagraha Se Swachhagraha which was held in New Delhi on April 3 to officially kick-start a week-long campaign Chalo Champaran. Highlighting how Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been a game changer in India, Mr Iyer said,
Till date, we have constructed more than 6.7 crore toilets, more than 3 lakh villages, 11 states and 3 Union Territories have now achieved the tag of open defecation free. Since 2014, the sanitation coverage in India has been doubled – from mere 38% in 2014 to 81% now, the achievement is huge. With such progress, we are sure that India will achieve the target of open defecation free country much before the deadline of October 2019.
#SwachhBharatMission is the biggest behaviour change program ever attempted. India is witnessing a #sanitation revolution ~ Secy DWS Shri @paramiyer_ at the National Media Dialogue on Satyagraha Se Swachhagraha. #ChaloChamparan pic.twitter.com/AwQ2JaSws0
— Swachh Bharat I #AzadiKaAmritMahotsav (@swachhbharat) April 3, 2018
Mr Iyer also said that Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programme is different from past similar movements in many aspects and added,
The earlier open defecation free programmes in India didn’t work out because they were not result driven. Verification and open defecation sustainability was not the focus of those campaigns. Whereas, in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the focus is to sustain the open defecation tag and bring about behavioural change in people on using toilets permanently.
Talking about World Health Day which will be celebrated on April 7, and how Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been successful in decreasing the disease burden from India, Mr Iyer added,
As far as sanitation is concerned, the movement is bringing in a significant change in India’s health. We have done all kinds of survey and found out that absence of sanitation has major impact on kid’s health below five. Recently, the study done by the Gates foundation has found that in an open defecation free villages, and now India has around 2 lakh 40 thousand villages officially open defecation free villages has significantly less number of diarrohea, stunting related diseases.
Joining the roundtable conference with Param Iyer was Nicholas Osbert, Chief, Water Sanitation and Hygiene Section, UNICEF, who also underlined many facts related to Swachh Bharat Mission. He said,
According to the World Bank report, India used to lose 53 billion worth money due to sanitation in 2008. Since then a lot has changed in the sanitation scenario in India, the country is going in the right direction, but still lot needs to be done.
Speaking about how India can become healthy by providing safe access to sanitation and hygiene, he further added,
If you look at preventing the illness in India, the number one barrier is hand washing resource. We need to educate people on why this simple practice is so important for a healthy country. The second barrier is providing sanitation to all, if there will not be feacal matter all over the roads, automatically the disease burden will reduce as the infection that is there in human excreta will not transfer at the current ratio.
The Satyagraha Se Swachhagraha event was held to officially kick-start a week-long campaign Chalo Champaran in Bihar with a motive to improve push the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission in the state and provide people with the basic necessities like clean environment and safe access to a toilet.