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Union ministers took part in the 'Swachhta hi Sewa' campaign on Sunday and underscored the Centre's commitment towards a "clean, healthy and strong" India. Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Mahesh Sharma, Hardeep Singh Puri and Alphons Kannanthanam took part in the campaign, which coincides with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday, in different parts of the country, and stressed on the importance of cleanliness. Taking part in the campaign organised at Delhi Cantonment area, Defence Minister Sitharaman said her ministry will carry out a drive to remove garbage from high altitude areas and glaciers. She said, "(If) we can send Mangalyaan to Mars and provide services to the world through our IT sector then why cannot we keep our environment clean?" According to an official statement, Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who participated in the campaign and wielded a broom at Sarojini Nagar Market area in the national capital, expressed "serious concerns" over the garbage crisis in the city. He termed solid waste management as the "real challenge". "As against the target of building 66 lakh individual household toilets in urban areas, about 37 lakh units have already been built.
With 56 per cent of the mission target already met, this exercise is on course," Puri was quoted as saying in the statement.The ongoing efforts to ensure total processing of solid waste will be successful only if segregation of waste is done at source, he said, adding this is necessary for the success of the chain of processes in making compost and power from municipal waste. "I would like to reach out to all Resident Welfare Associations (RWAs) in Delhi by writing to them to do the needful to ensure such segregation. At present, only half of the waste generated in Delhi is being processed and this is a matter of concern," the minister said. Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who took part in the campaign in Uttar Pradesh's Rampur, said "for the first time" after the Independence that cleanliness is not just a matter of habit, but has become a passion under the prime minister's leadership. "The Modi government is working with commitment to build a clean, healthy and strong India," he said. Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma took part programmes on the similar line in Noida, where he was joined by Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla. The Ministry of Culture, in a statement, said, "He (Sharma) encouraged citizens to participate in 'Swachhta hi Sewa Abhiyaan' up to October 2 as a tribute to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi." Union Minister for Law Ravi Shankar Prasad participates in a cleanliness drive under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 67th birthday, in Patna on Sunday. (Photo: PTI) Taking the central government's ambitious cleanliness drive to a higher trajectory, President Ram Nath Kovind had on September 15 kicked off the fortnight-long 'Swachhta Hi Seva' campaign from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Modi had in his recent 'Mann ki Baat' programme urged the people to hold a sanitation campaign from September 15 to October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.