New Delhi: The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in its dual role as the coordinating Ministry for the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and for execution of SBM (Gramin), is seeking to harness all energies and resources in the country to deliver on the goals of a Swachh Bharat by 2019. In line with this vision, The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has joined hands with Tata Trusts, who will build a cadre of skilled young professionals to work as Zila Swachh Bharat Preraks (ZSBPs), one in each district, across the country, at no cost to the State government or the district. The collaboration is an effort to strengthen capacities at the district level and provide them technical and management support as they continue to make strides towards becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF).
In response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to action to support Zila Swachh Bharat Preraks (ZSBPs), Tata Trusts, a key development partner of the Swachh Bharat Mission program and one of the leading philanthropic organizations in the country extended its support through the appointment of 600 ZSBPs, as an expansion of Tata Water Mission, the Trusts’ flagship Water and Sanitation program (WASH).
The joint announcement was made at a launch event in the Capital today, in the presence of the Union Minister, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Narendra Singh Tomar and the Chairman, Tata Trusts, Ratan Tata. CEO, NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant; Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Leena Nair; Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer, and Managing Trustee, Tata Trusts, R Venkataramanan, were also present at the occasion.
Speaking at the event, the Minister, Mr Tomar said that the role of these young ZSBPs will be to support the Collector/DDO/CEO to implement SBM(G) by coordinating the various sanitation-related activities in the district. He further said that, in addition to the wider benefits of engaging smart minds in the mission, this will also ensure a structured integration of the youth in the programme and bring in fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm to the Mission, thereby accelerating progress on the path to an ODF India.
He expressed the profound gratitude of the Ministry to Mr Tata and the Tata Trusts for lending this crucial support for the progress of SBM. He said that, in doing so, the Tata Trusts have shown a deep understanding and appreciation of the vision of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for a Clean India, which underscored the fact that a great nation needs to, first and foremost, be a healthy nation. He spoke about the healthy competition this has fostered among States and districts to declare themselves ODF, and expressed his confidence that this new initiative will provide the necessary support needed at the State and district level.
Mr Tata, in his address spoke about the challenge of nutrition facing our country today. He said that private sector and the government need to necessarily collaborate to work for the development of the country. He said that, in the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, the Trusts have found a very able and willing partner in the fight against malnutrition and lack of sanitation. He also spoke about the massive impact that SBM would have on creating the India of tomorrow. He said that the young professionals being brought into the districts with the programme will be a part of an initiative that has not been tried in the country before, and will have a unique opportunity to make a difference in the progress and development of their country. He expressed his confidence that they will make the best of this golden opportunity.
He spoke about the commitment of the Tata Trusts to help combat malnutrition and stunting among India’s children and improving public health indicators by eliminating open defecation in the country, through such partnerships with the union and state governments. He assured the Minister of the commitment of Tata Trusts to support the Prime Minister in his vision of what the India of tomorrow could be.
Mr Kant, in his address, said that the partnership beginning today between the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Tata Trusts would mark a critical and landmark beginning that would accelerate the progress on the path to an ODF India. He said that the ZBSPs will prove to be a critical support to the district Collector in focusing on sanitation exclusively and in achieving the goals of SBM. He expressed confidence that this initiative by the Tata Trusts would inspire many more in the corporate sector to intensify their engagement with developmental programmes of the government.
Ms Nair expressed her appreciation for the contribution made by Tata Trusts to the Swachh Bharat Mission. She said that this reiterates their commitment, not only to SBM, but to ending malnourishment and stunting among children in the country. She said that SBM will also have a big impact on reducing girl child dropout rates from the education system, and help prevent many reported and unreported crimes against women, that are perpetrated due to open defecation.
Mr Iyer gave a brief presentation on the progress made by SBM(Gramin). He stated that nearly 3 crore individual household toilets have been constructed so far since the launch of the Mission on October 2nd, 2014, thereby raising the percentage of households that have access to toilets to 58% today from 38% before the launch of SBM. More importantly, he stated, since SBM is a programme focused on usage of toilets rather than construction of toilets alone, it is a notable achievement that 67 districts and nearly 1.3 lakh villages of the country have become open defecation free, including 3 completely ODF States – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Sikkim.
He also took the opportunity to thank Mr Tata and the Tata Trusts for responding to the call of the Prime Minister and agreeing to provide quality young human resources to be deputed as ZSBPs across 600 districts. This, he said, is in addition to the support lent by Tata Trusts to 35 district governments across 9 States in areas of Behavioral Change Communication (BCC), technology innovations, promoting microfinance and microcredit, training and capacity building using advanced technologies such as Virtual Learning Centers (VLC), etc. He expressed his confidence that this initiative will be a game changer in terms of the boost it will give to the progress of SBM.