The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in association with the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Department of Youth Affairs, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, today organized a National Convention of Gram Pradhans in Alaahabad, with the support of the Government of Uttar Pradesh.The objective of the National Convention was to rally Gram Pradhans of 1651 villages in 52 districts and 5 States situated along the banks of the river Ganga, to work together and make their villages Open Defecation Free (ODF) to meet the goals of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) as well as the Namami Gange programme. The day began with the Minister, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar, and the Minister, Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ms. Uma Bharti paying tributes in front of the statue of Shri Chandrashekhar Azad at the Company Bagh, Allahabad. The Minister also administered a Swachhta Pledge to all the Pradhans, regarding making their villages ODF and sustaining the status.
Moving to the venue for the Convention, the United College of Engineering and Management, Naini, Ms. Uma Bharti began the proceedings of the convention by reading out a message on the occasion from the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi. Excerpts from the Prime Minister’s Message were as below: “It gives me immense pleasure that the representatives of all the Gram Panchayats situated along the banks of the river Ganga have assembled today at the Holy Sangam of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati – Allahabad – with the shared aim of making their villages Open Defecation Free. This beginning is an imperative to make the densely populated villages along the banks of the Ganga Swachh in true sense, to make our rivers pollution free, and to maintain the ecological balance in this area. For all-round development of the nation, it is critically important that our health is sound, our mothers and sisters live with safety and dignity, and our environment is clean, safe and attuned to community-wide health. Becoming Open Defecation Free – ODF – is the first step in this direction. Keeping the river Ganga clean and pure is our collective responsibility.
By coming together like this on one platform, you will not only help make the dream of all villages along the Ganga becoming ODF, but also inspire villages along the banks of other rivers in the country, and ultimately, all of rural India, to become ODF and, in true sense of the word, Swachh.” Ms. Uma Bharti explained the concept of Namami Ganga and appealed to all the Pradhans to clean up Ganga ji. She mentioned that besides ODF, solid and liquid waste management was also important and villages must be made swachh in a comprehensive sense. The Minister, Drinking Water and Sanitation, mentioned that Swachh Bharat has to be achieved by the Centre and the States working hand in hand. He also underlined the importance of freedom from open defecation in making the villages clean and brought out the convergence between Swachh Bharat and Namami Ganga. The Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Shri Parameswaran Iyer, delivered the welcome address, in which he spoke about the need for making all villages along the Ganga ODF and the resultant health impact and symbolic impact. Shri Raj Kishore Singh, Minister, Uttar Pradesh welcomed the efforts of Central Government in priotitising Swachh Bharat and assured full support of the State Government. The pradhans of ODF villages were felicitated on the occasion.