New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead from the front tomorrow as the government gears up to launch the biggest ever cleanliness and sanitation drive in the country.
A 'clean India' by 2019 when the nation will mark 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is the vision driving the mission.
Its launch on Oct 2 has a lot of significance as Father of the Nation had a penchant for cleanliness in his personal habits and sought to promote it in his environs in every way.
Now, PM Modi intends to involve every citizen in the task of cleanliness.
India fares poorly in access to toilets, especially in its semi-urban and rural areas, while its urban areas face problems related to hygiene and poor sanitation standards. Garbage disposal and hygiene standards in many commercial establishments leave much to be desired.
According to Census 2011, only 32.70 percent of rural households had access to toilets. A UN report released this year says India continues to have the largest number of people in the world defecating in the open.
Clearly, the challenge is enormous but the PM appears determined to bring it to a success.
Modi has made "Clean India" a top priority - speaking about it at all his major speeches, including his Independence Day address.
He has said that a "clean India" will be the best tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary in 2019.
The Prime Minister will personally wield a broom and kick start the cleanliness mission from Rajpath in New Delhi on Thursday morning, where he will also flag off a road walkathon.
Thousands of school children, college students and government officials will join the PM in the endeavour. The PM will take part in a walkathon and administer cleanliness pledge to children and others attending the event.
All government employees in Delhi will work on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary, a national holiday, to clean offices — including toilets — as part of the project.
The Prime Minister will begin his day by visiting Raj Ghat to pay tribute to Gandhiji. He will also take part in a programme at Valmiki Colony in central Delhi. Gandhiji had lived in the locality for many years.
The railways ministry, which has over 10 lakh employees, will take part in the campaign in a big way with cleanliness campaign at 7,700 stations across the length and breadth of India. Railway officials led by the railways minister and railway board members will clean railway tracks, railway colonies and even production units. Apart from that 245 senior level officials have been nominated to adopt a station each for the task.
The human resource development ministry has mooted a 'Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya Abhiyan' that would focus on including talks in the school assemblies by children on different aspects of cleanliness besides activities like cleaning of the school premises.
The Centre will spend nearly Rs 2 lakh crore in five years as part of its ambitious plan to completely clean India by October 2019.
While the Urban Development Ministry will allocate Rs 62,000 crore for cleaning towns across the country, the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will spend Rs 1 lakh 34 thousand crores for the programme.
Scientist Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, former director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, has been named the chair of an expert panel to recommend best technologies for the campaign.
The 19-member expert committee has been asked to examine best technologies on sanitation and water so that they can be scaled up on a sustainable basis in various states -- with affordability, sustainability, scalability and quality as the main criteria.
President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday called upon every Indian to do his utmost to make the "Swachh Bharat Abhiyan" a success.
In his message to the nation ahead of Gandhi Jayanti, Mukherjee said: "I call upon every Indian to do his utmost to make a success of the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' launched by the government to ensure hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the country."
"I also call upon everyone concerned to work hard to achieve the goal of toilets in every home by 2019 - the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji's birth," he added.
"Gandhiji believed that cleanliness is next only to godliness. Let us pledge this day to convert cleanliness into a national passion. Every road, every path, every office, every home, every hut, every stream and every particle in the air around us can and must be kept clean," he added.
With agency inputs