This is the 60th year of independence for India. It is a time for celebration in 4,429 gram panchayats and eight block panchayats across the country. Come May 04, almost a hundred days before India celebrates her 60th anniversary of independence, these panchayats from across the nation will receive an award which Mahatma Gandhi ranked even “higher than Independence”.
The President of India will be giving away the Nirmal Gram Puraskar to these Panchayats for achieving total sanitation. By so doing the President will acknowledge a new found quest for cleanliness and a new sense of achievement and partnership. The buzz word across India is “we can do it and we will”. The momentum is here to stay. We are all set to achieve the millennium development goal by or before 2012.
Gandhiji had once said sanitation is more important than political independence. Making every village “Nirmal” (clean and healthy) is central to all development efforts. Clean, green and healthy villages are an enduring sign of India’s progress.
Government of India instituted this award on October 2, 2003 to recognize, encourage and facilitate panchayati raj institutions and those individuals and organizations that work with them to achieve total sanitation. In 2005, 38 gram panchayats and two block panchayats had won this award. Last year, 760 gram panchayats and 9 blocks won the award.
A healthy competition is sweeping across India. Every panchayat wants to do better than the other and every panchayat wants to be healthier, cleaner and greener than the other. As a result this year more 9,675 gram panchayats, 120 block panchayats and three district panchayats competed for this award.
India’s progress towards the Gandhian dream of villages with total sanitation has been steady. But there is long way to go. In 1981, only one per cent of households in rural India had sanitation coverage. In 1991, 9 per cent of households and by 2001, 22 per cent of households had attained sanitation coverage. Today, it is estimated that 44 percent rural households have toilets. By 2012, open defecation will be a thing of the past.
The Total Sanitation Campaign is now operational in 572 districts. The campaign has an outlay of Rs. 11,375 crores.
This People – Government partnership has resulted in
• 3,19,00,000 rural household, including 1,85,00,000 households below poverty line have their own toilets
• 9,997 sanitation complexes
• 3,57,000 school toilets
• 1,10,000 Anganwadi toilets