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New Delhi : Over 100 journalists, development agencies and community workers attended a National Media Consultation on the Swachh Bharat Mission in the Capital. The Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer, presided over the consultation.

In his opening remarks, Iyer shared details of the nationwide mass mobilization drive, “Swachhata Hi Seva”, which follows an impassioned call by PM Narendra Modi, ahead of the 3rd anniversary of Swachh Bharat Mission that falls on October 2. Iyer said that the Swachhata Hi Seva campaign is seeing largescale mobilization of people from all walks of life to undertake shramdaan for cleanliness and construction of toilets, and cleaning up of public and tourist places. The participation has ranged from the President of India to the common citizen, Union Ministers, Governors, Chief Ministers, legislators, celebrities, faith leaders, and corporate leaders, according to aPIB release. He particularly appreciated the tremendous efforts being made by school children, central police services and defence personnel.

Iyer also shared a snapshot of the progress made by the Swachh Bharat Mission so far mentioning that five states, nearly 200 districts and nearly 2.4 lakh villages across the country have already declared themselves as Open Defecation Free.  He also quoted an independent survey conducted across 1,40,000 households by the Quality Council of India, which found household toilet usage to be 91%, according to the PIB release.

Nicolas Osbert, Chief, WASH, UNICEF India, in his welcome address, spoke about the impact of lack of sanitation on the health and growth of small children. He said that it was heartening to note that with the Swachh Bharat Mission and the personal leadership of India’s Prime Minister himself, concrete action is happening on the ground. He also shared with the media the results of an independent survey conducted by UNICEF across 10,000 households in 12 states of the country, to measure the economic impact of sanitation at a household level. He said the survey found that in fully ODF communities, considering the medical costs averted, value of mortality averted, and the value of time savings, an average family that invests in a toilet will save Rs 50,000 per year.

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