Prime Minister Modi declares country open defecation-free

Mahatma’s dream of ‘Clean Bharat’ fulfilled by government, he says
On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the country open defecation-free, claiming success for the government’s initiative under which every household now apparently has access to a toilet. “I am satisfied that on the occasion of Gandhi at 150, we are witnessing the fulfilment of his dream of Swachh Bharat . I feel lucky that on this occasion, when India has successfully stopped open defecation, I’m here at the ashram,” he wrote in the visitor’s book at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram on Wednesday. “The world is impressed by our success on the open defecation-free front, and is giving awards to us,” Mr. Modi said, declaring that the country had achieved cleanliness in urban and rural areas, thanks to the government’s push to build toilets.
Map unveiled
The Prime Minister pressed a remote, unveiling the map of India as open defecation-free at the Sabarmati riverfront ground in the presence of more than 20,000 village heads from across the country and also representatives from several countries. “Today, rural India has declared itself open defecation-free. This is a great achievement of the Swachh Bharat movement, which has people’s participation,” the Prime Minister said. “On the call of Mahatma Gandhi during the freedom movement, people of the country mobilised for ‘satyagrah’ and they did the same now for ‘swachhagrah’,” he said. “In 60 months, 600 million people have been given access to toilets, more than 110 million toilets have been built. The whole world is amazed to hear this,” he said.
‘A milestone’
“However, this achievement is just a milestone, and we should not stop here. The movement has to continue,” he said, adding that sanitation, environment conservation and animals were dear to Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. Modi credited ground-level volunteers with making Swachhta and toilets a common man’s topic after the government launched the initiative. “This mission helped to make the toilet, which was earlier a difficult topic, a common topic of discussion. From girls who demanded a toilet before marriage to Bollywood, everyone contributed to the mission to make India an open defecation-free country,” he added, acknowledging the contribution of every section in the public movement.
He said his government is committed to making the country free of plastics by 2022.
“Plastic is a major threat to the environment so we have to achieve the goal to eradicate ‘single-use plastic’ by 2022.” In a separate event organised by the State BJP to felicitate the Prime Minister for his speech at the UN General Assembly, he said the country’s stature is on the rise on the world stage. According to him, a glimpse of the respect India has globally was seen during the ‘HowdyModi’ event in Houston during his recent week-long trip to the U.S.
Mr. Modi said the world can see that India is at the forefront of several positive changes taking place globally.
“The strength and the value of the Indian passport has increased. The world now sees those holding an Indian passport with respect. The ‘HowdyModi’ event in the U.S. has become a talking point among world leaders he met after that programme,” he said. “The fact that U.S. President Donald Trump came to the Indian event and stayed there for such a long time was great. After speeches, when I requested him, he came for a round of the stadium without considering security protocol. I thank him and all those who organised the event,” he said. “In a way, the world is looking at India with great eagerness. The world was curious about India, a huge country with a vibrant democracy and it is hopeful that India’s participation will be most significant whenever there are opportunities to bring about global changes,” he said.

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