Gadag: Vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday urged the people to work towards ending open defecation and join the "public movement" to achieve the goal of a 'Clean India' by October 2, 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi had accorded the highest priority to sanitation and cleanliness and had famously said sanitation was more important than political freedom, Naidu said.
He was addressing a gathering at the inauguration of 'Swachhta Hi Seva' (sanitation campaign) and 'Shudda Kudiyuva Neerina Ghataka' (clean drinking water) project at Konnur Village in this district in north Karnataka.
Naidu also pointed out that the bad habit of disposing of excreta anywhere was the cause of many of the diseases.
Referring to a UNICEF report, Naidu said that good sanitation could save Rs 50,000 per year per family and lack of it also contributed to physical and cognitive stunting among children.
He pointed out that open defecation causes a serious threat to the safety of women and children.
Naidu said the number of Indians defecating in the open in rural and urban areas was estimated to have reduced to 30 crores from about 60 crores in 2014.
He added that over 2.45 lakh villages, 1,300 cities, 200 districts and five states have been declared open defecation free (ODF).
All villages along the banks of river Ganga have been declared ODF, he said.
Regarding the Municipal Solid Waste Management (MSWM), he said over 50 percent of urban wards have the door-to-door collection of municipal solid waste and nearly 100 MW energy was being produced from waste in the country.
Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Vala, Union minister of state for drinking water and sanitation Ramesh Jigajinagi, Karnataka Minister for rural development and Panchayat Raj H K Patil and MP P C Gaddigoudar were present on the occasion.