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Jairam sets target to make India ‘clean’

The union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday that India has embarked on a 10-year mission to turn into an open-defecation-free country.

The minister, who held a review meeting with representatives of Northeastern states on drinking water and sanitation at Prajna Bhavan in Agartala, told reporters that the centre had earmarked Rs 3,500 crore during 2012-13 financial year under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan.

'Each gram panchayat will be made open-defecation free, a course to nation within the next 10 years by pumping Rs 35,000 crore,' he said. At present the country has 2.40 lakh gram panchayats
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Besides, the rural development ministry has already initiated a dialogue with the Bill Gates Foundation to address the problem of open-air defecation on railway tracks.

Referring to the review meeting, the minister said Sikkim had already made itself open-defecation free state while Kerala is on the way to achieving this target. 'Three northeastern states, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram, will achieve the same distinction within next year,' he said, adding that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has been pumping funds in different welfare schemes to all states. 'The money belongs to people of the country, and they have the right to ask what they had got from the state governments,' he said.

To ensure transparency and accountability in spending of central funds, Ramesh said, 'The outcome of the performance audit of CAG for the past years will be tabled in Parliament in the first part of December,' he added.
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