Presenting the ”Swachh Survekshan Awards 2021”, President Ram Nath Kovind today reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ensuring that the life of no sanitation worker was put at risk due to unsafe cleaning practices.
He appreciated the ‘Safai Mitra Suraksha Challenge’ initiative of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs which has been started in 246 cities with the aim to promote mechanical cleaning of sewers and septic tanks.
Kovind advised the ministry to extend this mechanical cleaning facility in all the cities. He said that manual scavenging was a shameful practice. Eradication of this practice was not only the responsibility of the government but also of the society and citizens.
The President said that this year’s ”Swachh Survekshan Awards” have a special significance because the nation was celebrating ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’. Mahatma Gandhi, he recalled, used to say that “cleanliness is next to godliness”. According to him, cleanliness should be the top priority.
Kovind said that this priority of Gandhiji has been carried forward by the Government of India as a mass movement through the ”Swachh Bharat Mission”. He stated that the efforts to make the country completely neat and clean were a true tribute to the nation’s freedom fighters.
The President noted that ”Safai Mitras” and sanitation workers have continuously rendered their services even during the COVID pandemic.
The President said that effective management of solid waste was essential to keep the cities clean. He pointed out that on 1 October, the Prime Minister had launched ‘Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban 2.0’ with the goal of making all cities ‘waste-free’ by 2026. ”It is obvious that a garbage-free city requires that houses, streets, and localities remain garbage-free.”
He emphasised that the responsibility for the success of this campaign lay with the government as well as all the citizens. ‘We have to ensure that everyone segregates wet and dry waste at home.”
The President said that environment conservation has been an integral part of the traditional lifestyle of India. Today the whole world was emphasising environmental protection in which the focus was on reducing, reuse and recycling the resources.
He noted that good examples were coming out of the idea of ‘Waste to Wealth’ and many start-ups were active in these areas. He said that appropriate schemes could be developed to encourage entrepreneurship and investment in these areas.