Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Sushri Uma Bharti, today highlighted the importance of sustaining the open defecation free status achieved in over 5.5 lakh villages and 600 districts across rural India. She was addressing a Swachhata Samaroh in Agra of over 5000 key swachhata stakeholders like Gram Pradhans, Swachhagrahis, ASHA, AWWs, Swachhata Champions and others. The Samaroh was organised by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Government of Uttar Pradesh.Speaking to the gathering, Sushri Uma Bharti congratulated the people of Uttar Pradesh for boosting rural sanitation coverage in the State from around 48% in 2017 to almost 100% at present in less than two years. She highlighted the crucial role played by Gram Panchayats for accelerating behaviour change for safe sanitation and making the Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBMG) a community led movement and a true Jan Andolan. She encouraged participants to also focus on ODF-plus activities like Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) and generating wealth from waste.
The Minister administered a swachhata oath to the audience for discarding plastics/polythene use, taking up cleaning of river banks and waterbodies and adopting organic farming using cow-dung based manure and compost for encouraging ODF sustainability and environment conservation.Prof. Ram Shanker Katheria, MP (Agra) and Chairman, National Commission for Scheduled Caste thanked the Minister for her inspiring leadership in driving SBMG successfully to achieve an ODF India and encouraged participants to work for ODF sustainability.Sushri Uma Bharati also felicitated 30 Swachhata Champions including Gram Pradhans and Swachhagrahis of Agra division for their outstanding work in making their GPs ODF and for their efforts in ODF sustainability. Mayor (Agra), Shri Navin Jain, MLA, Shri Jagan Prasad Garg, and JS (MDWS), Shri Arun Baroka were among other dignitaries present at the event.