'Construction of toilets in urban areas to be completed soon'

New Delhi: Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday that the government would meet the target of construction of 72 lakh household and public toilets in urban areas under the Swachh Bharat Mission a year ahead of the schedule of October 2, 2019, and stressed that behavioural change among people was at the heart of cleanliness mission which would ensure its success.
The Housing and Urban Affairs Minister said that the success of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would hugely depend on the success of India just as the success of China in taking people out of poverty led to the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The minister said the government has set a target of building 67 lakh household toilets and five lakh community or public toilets in urban areas by October 2019.
As on March 31, we have already built 52 lakh individual household toilets and 3.2 lakh public toilets...well one year in advance of October 2019, well before October 2018, we would build the required amount of toilets in the urban areas of the country, he said while addressing India Sanitation Conclave 2018', organised by industry body FICCI here.
The Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission) aims to achieve 100 per cent open defecation free (ODF) and scientific solid waste management in India by October 2, 2019, the 150th birthday anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
The scheme is implemented by the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry in urban areas and the Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry is responsible for rural areas.
Stressing that the mission started as the government project and later turned into a 'jan andolan' (people's movement), Puri said the heart of the issue is the behavioural change which is necessary for the success of the mission.
He also asked the private sector to play an active role at grassroots level in effecting behavioural change in people such as maintaining and using toilets.
Speaking about the management of solid waste -- another component of the cleanliness mission, Puri said, I am afraid that the capacity augmentation which is required is taking place at a very fast rate but I would like to see that (waste management projects') completion and that give me sometimes a little cause for anxiety. Land is a state subject and the only way to deal with it is through participation of stakeholders.
Noting that there have been sometimes an artificial discussion on India's commitment to cleanliness and the SDGs, he said Clean India Mission was announced in 2014, while the 2030 SDGs were adopted a year later.
The previous set of development goals -- the Millennium Development Goals -- were conceived, designed and put into a package in which the thinking was done by the West -- the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) -- and these were developed in Paris and then brought as a package to the UN to all the member states on the basis of as is, where is, take it or leave it package, he said.
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