New Delhi: The Centre has identified 10 iconic places with higher footfalls, including Taj Mahal and Vaishno Devi, to be cleaned on par with international standards for which the World Bank will provide technical assistance, officials said today.
The Centre is also in the process of drafting standard operating procedures (SOP) to ensure cleanliness at as many known sanctuaries and tigers reserves, they said.
"We have taken an initiative at 10 iconic places. The idea is to ensure cleanliness of international excellence- level here. We have invited international experts for helping us and World Bank will provide technical assistance for the same," Parmeswaran Iyer, Secretary (Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation), told reporters.
Taj Mahal (Agra) and Manikarnika Ghat (Uttar Pradesh), Vaishno Devi (Jammu and Kashmir), Meenakshi temple (Madurai), Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh), Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Maharashtra), Ajmer Sharif (Rajasthan), Golden Temple (Punjab), Kamakshi Temple (Tamil Nadu) and Jagannathpuri (Odisha) are the places identified by the government.
He said the government plans to do bench-marking to ascertain what will be the standard of cleanliness both inside and outside these places.
Iyer said the ministry will organise a two-day workshop next month, when consultations will be held with the experts, who, he said, will help chalk out a roadmap to implement the "site-specific" programme, fix indicators of international standards and decide on timeframe and financial resources.
Iyer, who was accompanied by Environment and Forest Ministry Secretary Ajay Narayan Jha during the briefing, stressed the initiative will require participation of corporate houses, both private and public, and people to succeed.
Jha said that the Environment Ministry is working on SOPs to take forward cleanliness around national park/sanctuaries/ tiger reserves "a step forward" and identified 10 such locations with higher footfall being the main focus initially.
Among these locations include sanctuaries such as Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Andhra Pradesh), Gir Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park (Gujarat) and Flamingo Sanctuary (Maharashtra).
Besides these, the government has identified Kanha (Madhya Pradesh), Tadoba-Andhari (Maharashtra), Nagarhole (Karnataka), Periyar (Kerala), Sariska (Rajasthan), Mudumalai (Tamil Nadu) and Jim Corbett (Uttarakhand) tiger reserves.
Talking to reporters on 'Swachh Bharat Mission', the officials maintained that the implementation of the flagship programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "very much on track" as they noted "remarkable" progress has been made over the past 18 months.
We are in the process of drawing up standard operating procedures. The National Tiger Conservation Authority notification already emphasises on maintenance of cleanliness around tiger reserves. We want to take it a step forward. To start with, we have identified 10 sanctuaries. Other places will be included after the SOP is ready," Jha said.
To a question, Iyer rejected reports that Prime Minister was not happy with the pace of the work and said the government is working towards attaining the deadline of October 2, 2019 when villages are planned to be made open defecation-free by constructing toilets.
The government is also working towards inculcating the habit of using toilets by bringing about behavioural changes, he said.
He also stated that state governments were "co-operating" with the Centre on these fronts.
"Globally there are 1 billion people who practice OD (open defecation). 600 million of them are in India. So, it is a monumental challenge which has never been seriously addressed. This is the first time chief executive of any country (Modi) has taken such interest.
"The increase in sanitation coverage from end of 2014 till now is of 14 per cent which is remarkable in such a short time. I think there has been lot of momentum," he said.
Iyer also stated that the government now mulls accelerating the work. He also added that the efforts to engage 27 mission ambassadors including film actors, sports and other renowned personalities.
Meanwhile, Jha informed reporters about the Swachh Bharat Fortnight, organised by each government department, observed by the Environment Ministry between June 1 and June 19 (extended by four days) at its office premises, protected areas such as sanctuaries, national parks, tiger reserves - which see higher footfalls.