File Photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a cleaning sesson at Varanasi's Assi Ghat. (Press Trust of India)
The 'Swachh Bharat' campaign today got a boost with USAID and Bill-Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) joining hands with the government and pledging a financial commitment of around USD 12 million over the next five years for the success of the Mission.
The Urban Development Ministry signed MoUs with USAID and BMGF under which the two international bodies will to help strengthen sanitation and hygiene in urban areas, besides helping build capacity.
They will also share the best practices, innovation and technologies to achieve national sanitation targets.
While BMGF pledged to provide financial support for this to the tune of USD 2.5 million per year for a five-year period for the programme, USAID will contribute upto USD 2 million for it.
Swacch Bharat Mission is a flagship programme being undertaken by the NDA government and it has set a target of making the country clean and healthy by October 2, 2019, the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
"Swachh Bharat Mission launched by the Prime Minister on October 2, 2014 is receiving a massive response and the PM has desired to convert this to a jan andolan
(people's movement). It is catching up fast and people from different walks of life, different political shades, and also people belonging to different vocations, are coming forward," Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said after the MoU signing event. He said people from cinema, industry, business, academic community are coming forward voluntarily to participate in the campaign.
US Ambassdor Richard Verma, USAID Mission Director John Beed, BMGF Country Director Girindre Beehary and senior ministry officials were present at the MoU signing event.
"Children across the country are all fascinated by the programme and it is gaining momentum day by day. I am happy today USAID has come forward to have MoU with the ministry to support us in capacity building and also transfer of knowledge and good practices," Mr Naidu said. Thanking USAID for its support, the Minister said "They are extending support upto USD 2 million for this campaign. We are thankful to them; the mission will get further strengthened."
Mr Naidu recalled that Bill Gates, founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, had come to India three months back and discussed the issue with him.
"Today, we have an agreement of cooperation with BMGF. They are committing to support the campaign in knowledge transfer and capacity building which are required for this massive campaign," he said, adding "Our efforts will get further boost and this campaign will get great success." Mr Naidu said state after state is coming forward to join the campaign.
"The Ministry is also preparing an action plan to release funds to different states for the sanitation campaign, solid waste management among others."