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Letter to BS: Govt's initiatives for Clean India programme are impressive

A lot remains to be done but it's been a tremendous start and the going has been great

Business Standard 

Swachh Bharat, clean India, sweeping
The report is part of a three year collaborating programme undertaken by TERI, Coca-Cola India and USAID

Kudos for devoting a full page (October 2) to the 5th anniversary of the revolutionary Clean India programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. You’ve done an excellent stock-taking of this crucial project. The project has indeed gone beyond mere tokenism and photo-ops. Notwithstanding a few misses, in totality, there are huge gains.Just the costs averted and savings illustrated in your chart are hugely impressive. That each household could save as much as Rs 70,000 on an average per annum is incredible. A possible reduction of over 5 per cent in the loss to GDP if 100 per cent households are provided toilets is mind boggling. Who would’ve imagined such widespread advantages of a clean-up programme?

The frank comments of Parameswaran Iyer, secretary, Ministry for Drinking Water and Sanitation, give us hope that the government is serious and the 10-year sanitation strategy will ensure that “India will transition from open defecation free (ODF) to ODF Plus”. The government’s move to rope in a vocal and eloquent Opposition leaders like Shashi Tharoor is a great idea. Such efforts will help widen the acceptance of the scheme across the political spectrum and make it a truly national effort. Endorsement by the country’s biggest industrialist Mukesh Ambani should also help. More than anything else, enthusiastic participation of school children gives a lot of hope.

Of course, a lot remains to be done but it’s been a tremendous start and the going has been great.

Krishan Kalra, Gurugram

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First Published: Thu, October 03 2019. 00:25 IST