The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today addressed 20,000 Swachhagrahis in Motihari, East Champaran district of Bihar. The event marked the culmination of a weeklong “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign run in Bihar from 3rd April onwards. At this event, associated with the clarion call “Chalo Champaran”, the Prime Minister also awarded ten Swachhagrahis who have performed outstandingly in their villages.
In the run-up to this event, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in coordination with the Government of Bihar, worked to spread the message of Swachhata by initiating the “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign, from 3rd to 10th April. More than 10,000 Swachhagrahis from different parts of the country have been invited to Bihar, where they have been working with 10,000 Swachhagrahis from Bihar to “trigger” behaviour change throughout the 38 districts of the State and build momentum of the jan andolan further.
Addressing the 20,000 Swachhagrahis gathered in Champaran, the Prime Minister said that their presence on the occasion was a great example of history repeating itself. 100 years after Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha, the grassroots motivators and behavior change agents of Swachh Bharat are now leading a Swachhagraha, he said.
He said that he was confident that Bihar will also achieve the goals of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin). He lauded the State for having recently broken through the 50% mark in terms of rural sanitation coverage, and for building 8.5 lakh toilets in the run-up week to the Champaran anniversary itself.
The Prime Minister mentioned that under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), in the last 3.5 years alone, 3.5 lakhs villages and over 350 districts, and 35 crore people have shunned open defecation. Nearly 7 crore toilets have been built and 14 States and UTs have already been declared ODF. The Prime Minister appreciated that toilets are now being called “Izzat Ghar” (House of Dignity) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The Prime Minister quoted a study done by UNICEF that found that a household in an ODF village in India saves Rs.50,000 every year by way of disease treatment costs averted, saving of livelihood by not falling ill, etc. He also mentioned a study that estimates that households in ODF villages in India have significantly better health indicators.
In his address to the gathering, Shri Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, said that if we inspired the youth to imbibe the ideals and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, then a clean India will surely be built by the people of the country. He said that the Government of Bihar is committed to making the State Open Defecation Free well in time for the timeline set for the Swachh Bharat Mission, i.e. the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, October 2, 2019.
Speaking on the occasion, Sushri Uma Bharti, Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said that Mahatma Gandhi launched the Champaran Satyagraha over a century ago, on 10th April, 1917, to give the country freedom from foreign rule. She added that this day, today, marks the “Satyagraha se Swachhagraha” campaign, which is aimed at achieving freedom from filth.
In addition to addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister also inaugurated new initiatives by a number of central government ministries.