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Awarding Good Corporate Citizens

Out of the target to construct 65 lakh individual household toilets by October 2019, 95 per cent, that is, 63 lakhs have already been built; and the target to construct 5 lakh community toilets has already been achieved, informed Minister Hardeep Singh Puri during the National Swachhata Summit 2019 organized recently by CSR Times and CAAG.

CSR Times in association with Clean Action and Assessment Group (CAAG) India organized the National Swachhata Summit 2019 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on February 19, 2019. On the occasion, awards were given to corporates who have been contributing in the Central Government’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan since its launch in October 2014. Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri was the chief guest while Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, was the guest of honour. Union Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar sent a video message.

Giving the welcome address, Stuti Kacker, former chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Secretary Department of Disability Affairs, thanked CSR Times and CAAG for organizing the National Swachh Summit 2019 and bringing together the key players of the Swachhata Abhiyan who are making immense contribution giving shape to the movement for cleanliness. This, she said, is in a way ensuring us Indians our fundamental right to breathe clean air, eat clean, green and non-adulterated food, drink safe water and dispose pollutants in a very responsible manner. “By participating in such Abhiyans launched by the government, we will ensure a better future for our children as we pass along,” she said.

Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, shared a video message with the participants. He said that for the past four-and-a-half years, the Swachhata Abhiyan has become a mass movement with lakhs of young people and students taking active part in helping people to change their attitudes and mindsets. More than 2.5 lakh government and 6.5 lakh private schools have joined in making their school premises clean and hygenic. More than 4,500 colleges and universities and some 4,50,000 students have joined the Swachhata bandwagon countrywide. For example, he said that in Pune, which is otherwise a clean city, students have collected more than 100 tonnes of plastic in the Swachhata drive.

Chief guest Hardeep Singh Puri thanked the corporates, the foundations and NGOs for their contribution in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. He said it is because of you the programme has become massive and has unfolded into a Jan Andolan. “Sanitation is more important than political independence, Gandhi ji had said in 1916. Speaking at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) he had called for a national awakening and creation of a consciousness on sanitation. His political and social mobilization for independence came a year later in 1917.”

The Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day, August 15, 2014, that it will be a tribute to the Mahatma if by his 150th anniversary in 2019 we are open defecation free and achieve 100 per cent solid scientific waste management.

Speaking about the steps taken by the government in the direction, Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said out of the target to construct 65 lakh individual household toilets by October 2019, 95 per cent, viz, 63 lakhs have already been built, and the target to construct 5 lakh community toilets has already been achieved. The Urban Affairs Minister added that 37,000 toilets have been mapped and are available on the Google maps. Google toilet locator also provides an option to citizens to provide a feedback after using a toilet. The Minister said besides the physical target which will soon be met, a paradigm shift in terms of behaviour change is also required. And the good news is that we are slowly and surely getting there. It is a journey that we will have to follow in our subsequent programmes too, he said. “We have taken up a multi-pronged strategy to make this mission successful and in turning it into a people’s movement.” One of the most important components in the Abhiyan Hardeep Singh Puri said is the impact that the corporates can make. The government, he said, is also creating an enabling environment for private sector participation including through corporate social responsibility (CSR) interventions. The total budget outlay for Swachh Bharat Mission is `62,000 crore, out of which `14,000 crore is being spent by the Central Government and the state and urban local bodies share is `5,000 crore. The remaining `40,000 crore has to be generated from other sources including corporates through CSR.

He thanked CSR Times for providing a platform for showing the CSR efforts by corporates, which he hoped will inspire other like-minded organizations to come forward and contribute their time and resources in the war against gandagi (filth). Many corporates along with the public sector undertakings (PSUs) are partnering with government to realize the dreams of a clean India. Naming a few, he said, the purpose is to encourage others to step forward. Some of the corporate he listed included: Adar Poonawala of Sherman Institute of India who undertook the clean city movement to support the Pune Municipal Corporation in collection of daily street waste; Tata Chemicals which donated `1.5 crore to Swachh Bharat Gujarat Mission, scientific disposal of solid and liquid waste and initiatives for improving public health and cleanliness; Mahendra and Mahendra which contributed `1.39 crore to make Mohali clean by constructing public toilets and putting up bins; ITC which helped construct over 1,000 toilets and for segregation and recycling of waste; and Mata Amritanandamayi who contributed `100 crore to build toilets.

Waste processing which was 18 per cent at the start of the project has gone up to 51 per cent, said the Minister and added that a considerable investment is being made in the waste to compost, waste to energy projects, and plants are under construction. He said ODF plus and ODF plus plus have been launched and cities have participated enthusiastically. The number of urban local bodies participating in it is very encouraging he said. He concluded by saying that to meet our objective of an India which lives in the cities but where the city dwellers have ease of living, green and silicon technology should be used in construction.

Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said he is happy that the focus is on the biggest challenge that we are facing: “How to keep our cities, towns, villages and public places clean, neat and healthy”. Unfortunately, despite the fact that our culture has been focusing on cleanliness and we try to do that in our own household, somehow realization that keeping outside our house clean is not there, he said. This is causing innumerable damage to India’s reputation, creating health hazards and not allowing the true tourism potential in India to be fully exploited. Therefore, the Prime Minister launched this very big programme Swachh Bharat which has really yielded huge results, Prabhu said adding that of course we still have a long way to go.

Giving examples of the swachhata mission undertaken in the Indian Railways when he was the Minister for Railways he said he had started the SMS service wherein if anybody finds that the coach is not clean, he can send an SMS “clean my coach” and within 15 minutes the service would be provided and the coach will be cleaned. Unless the person who made the complain responds back saying the coach is clean now, the docket will still be open and action will continue. This, he said, resulted in making railway platforms and coaches clean.

The Minister said rather than expecting others to go and clean why not we ourselves keep it clean. It should be a joint combined responsibility of each one of us to keep our surroundings clean. As the Minister for Commerce and Industry he said he had an unprecedented video conference with people not only in district but also sub-district level where there is trade and commerce. “I told them it is our joint responsibility to address some of the social issues.”

Minister Suresh Prabhu said that the competitive spirit of “keeping clean” will make India clean. Technology has to be introduced, mindset has to be changed, some punitive action has to be taken and one of the great incentives is to give awards to those who have made it better, he said and congratulated the corporates who were awarded for their swachhata initiatives during the Summit.

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