The Minister for Rural Development and Drinking Water and Sanitation Shri Jairam Ramesh said here that India will be an open defecation free country in the next ten years and sanitation issue should become a national obsession. Talking about the Nirmal Bharat Yatra to be launched from Wardha on 3rd of October, he said in the presence of Actress and Sanitation Ambassador Vidya Balan, it is an epic journey of 56 days across 5 states spanning nearly 2,000 kilometers and will target over 9 crore people to spread awareness about sanitation. The yatra will conclude on 19th of November at Bettiah district of Bihar.Shri Ramesh said that it should not be viewed as a government programme, but it is in true sense a social mission. He said , the Yatra is all about demand generation and sensitization about the sanitation issues as open defecation is a blot on our society. The Minister said that the single biggest cause of malnutrition in India is poor sanitation and hygiene and therefore the most important medical and behavioral message would be conveyed by this yatra. He said, Sikkim has already achieved the ODF ( Open Defecation Free) status and the States like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Maharashtra are on way to achieve the sanitation goals in coming one to two years. He said, for the first time 600 Swachchhta Preraks have been appointed at the district level, who will be given job cards to spread the message of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan. Shri Ramesh said, the services of about eight and a half lakh Accredited Social Health Activists, ASHA workers and 13 lakh Aganwadi sevikas will be taken for spreading the message of sanitation in rural areas. He said, 25 lakh women self help groups in the country will also be roped in to drive home the message of sanitation scheme. He said, a forum of 30 NGOs in different states will be formed for evaluation of the work of Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.
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