“If Uttar Pradesh becomes open defecation-free in 10 years,I can accept that Saibaba is alive,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today said expressing doubts about the state achieving the complete Nirmal status in next 10 years.
Ramesh,who is also the Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation,also said the issue of sanitation should become a “political agenda” in states like Uttar Pradesh,Bihar,Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan to execute the Government’s declared policy that India will be made open defecation free by 2022.
“In Haryana,out of 6,700 Gram Panchayats,1700 have become Nirmal Gram Panchayat. The way the programme is being run in Haryana is encouraging. The Chief Minister has assured me that by 2014,all the Gram Panchayats will be Nirmal Gram Panchayat. In Himachal Pradesh,I expect that by March 2013,all the Gram Panchayats will be Nirmal Gram Panchayat.
“In Uttar Pradesh,if we are able to do it in next 10 years,then I can accept that Saibaba is live,” the Minister told reporters after addressing the national workshop on sanitation here.
Vigorously pushing the agenda of sanitation,he said “an Army of volunteers” comprising the three crore members of women self-help groups,over 8 lakh ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) volunteers and 13 lakh anganwadi workers to spread the awareness of hygene through the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan campaign in rural areas of the country.
The Minister said he was trying to “de-bureaucratise” the sanitation movement and make it a national movement.
“There is too much bureaucratic movement right now. How to make it a people’s movement. How to make it a national obsession. That is what my concern is,” Ramesh said.
Earlier,addressing the national workshop for state and district level ‘swachchhta preraks’,Ramesh said Sikkim has already achieved open defecation free status and states like Kerala,Himachal Pradesh,Haryana and Maharashtra are on way to achieve total sanitation goal by next two years.
For the first time,600 ‘swachchhta preraks’ appointed at the district level will be given job cards to spread the message of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan,he said.
Ramesh said while 28,000 gram panchayats have achieved the Nirmal status in the last 10 years,this year the target is to make 29,500 gram panchayats open defecation free.
He said a forum of 30 NGOs in different states will be formed for evaluation of the work of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.