Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat called for active participation from all the citizens to work towards water conservation and sanitation for a healthier and cleaner India. Speaking at the Mission Paani World Toilet Day event, on Friday, Shekhawat said, “Intensive measures have been taken to achieve Open Defecation Free (ODF) status and it is important that all of us do our bit to support the Prime Minister’s Jal Shakti Abhiyan and News18’s Mission Paani.”
The Mission Paani World Toilet Day event saw the gathering of some of the notable personalities like Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Harivansh Narayan Singh, renowned artist Akshay Kumar, founder of World Toilet Organization (WTO) Jack Sim and well-known sanitation activist Bindeshwar Pathak among others to take forward the agenda of access to clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene for all.
During the discussion, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla called for the participation of people in various government and other initiatives related to sanitation efforts and water conservation. He said that clean water and safe toilets are every citizen’s right.
He also touched upon the plight of women in villages who are most affected by the lack of access to clean water. He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started committees of women in such needy villages along with programmes to solve the crisis.
Akshay Kumar, as the ambassador of Mission Paani, extended his support for the campaign and said developing nations like India still have many areas where women suffer due to lack of clean water and proper toilets. The actor also said that every citizen should uphold their responsibility to help provide these facilities to our near and dear ones and the community.
Gaurav Jain, Reckitt’s Senior Vice President for South Asia, who joined the event with other dignitaries, said that Mission Pani is a step towards taking the mission of cleaner India forward. Jain also talked about the menace of manual scavenging in India which puts the lives of thousands of workers in danger on a daily basis.
In a panel discussion joined by the renowned personalities from various fields, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and former Journalist Harivansh Narayan Singh said each individual should do their own ‘kartavya’ (duty) to make programmes like Mission Paani a success. He also recalled the efforts made by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya during his election campaigns to spread awareness about safe sanitation practices.
“Dr Lohiya was one of the few ministers who took up the agenda of toilets during the elections, but it got a formal shape only after 2014. Over 11 crores toilets have been constructed and today, every citizen of this nation knows the importance of cleanliness, hygiene and water,” said Harivansh.
Bindeshwar Pathak, sanitation crusader and the founder of Sulabh International, also raised the issue of social untouchability in society during the panel discussion. He said, “Earlier, only kings and queens used to defecate in a closed room, rest used an open area. Those who used to clean their toilets faced the issues of social untouchability.”
The founder of the World Toilet Organization (WTO) Jack Sim talked about the impact of providing training sanitation workers in special toilet colleges. “We don’t just train them but we place them into jobs. Now, thousands of people have moved from having no regular jobs to being professional sanitation workers. We are very hopeful that we can spread this all over India, and also, all over the world. Because when you want good sanitation conditions, you also want workers to be professional.”
The event also witnessed the unveiling of ‘101 Stories of Inspiration’, a compilation of stories of exceptional people who are resiliently working to change the state of sanitation in India.
The Mission Paani initiative also took a revolutionary pledge to uphold India’s first-ever Preamble for safe water and sanitation for all citizens. The pledge takes forward the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal number 3, 6 and 10, to drive awareness that ensures no one is left behind.
Sanitation workers being trained at the world toilet college in Patiala took the pledge towards ‘Sanitation for all’. Swami Chidanand Saraswati, the president and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram in Rishikesh, India, also took the pledge and said, “We have built so many temples and inspired so many temples to be built, now the time has come to build more toilets.”
Written by renowned lyricist Kausar Munir, the ‘Sanitation for All Pledge: Safe Toilets, Safe Water, Safe Nation’ calls for the nation to collectively pledge and undertake efforts, at individual and community levels, in cultural and social arenas, in office and at home, to quantifiably promote inclusion systems and mindsets. This is to be done keeping in mind the concerns of under-resourced genders, castes and classes.
An initiative of Network 18 and Harpic India, Mission Pani, on World Toilet Day showcased how they are constantly working towards water conservation, safe sanitation and hygiene for all and aim to change attitudes and behaviour towards water consumption and safe sanitation.
You can be part of this revolution too and join the Mission Paani campaign, just log on to: Mission paani