On the occasion of the 149th birth anniversary of the ‘Father of the Nation’, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat. Leaders including BJP veteran L.K. Advani, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi also paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is on a three-day visit to India also paid tribute to Gandhiji on the morning of 2nd October. 2nd October 2018 also marks the fourth anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission launched by PM Modi. The nationwide campaign was launched in 2014 from Rajghat with an objective to make the country open defecation free when the nation celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Since then a lot has changed, Swachh Bharat Mission has achieved significant milestones in both the rural and urban front and has triggered a nationwide flurry of activity to improve sanitation and cleanliness in the country. The government has repeatedly described it as one of the biggest people’s movement.
In the last four years, 9 crore toilets have been constructed in India and more than 4.5 lakh villages, 450 districts, 20 states, and Union Territories have been declared open defecation free successfully. Overall, the results of the 4 years of Swachh Bharat Mission survey shows that there has been a marked improvement in the state of cleanliness of the cities. The comparison of the 1-year, 2-year, 3-year, and 4-year survey also shows that the Swachh Bharat Mission has passed the time test, with almost constant improvement in cleanliness being reported by citizens. After the first year, only 23% of citizens had reported cleaner neighborhood and city when compared with early 2014 (before the Swachh Bharat Mission was announced). This number increased to 61% in year 2, dropped slightly to 56% in year 3 and rose to 67% in this year’s survey.
Meanwhile, the government said that India managed to make 521 districts open defecation free, an achievement for which the World Health Organisation lauded India’s efforts. The international agency said that India has elevated the challenge of ending open defecation to the highest level.
At the Rashtrapati Bhavan cultural center, the Prime Minister along with the UN Sec Gen Antonio Guterres attended the closing session of the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention -a four-day international conference that has brought together sanitation ministers and other leaders from around the world. “Today, I am proud to say that 1.25 billion Indians have chosen the path shown of sanitation shown by Mahatma Gandhi and has made Swachh Bharat Mission the biggest people-driven campaign”, said PM Modi.