President says Good Sanitation practices are key to a healthy life style

28 PANCHAYATS HONOURED FOR MAKING THEIR VILLAGES ‘OPEN-DEFECATION FREE’ AND NIRMAL VILLAGES
“Good Sanitation practices are the key to a healthy life style” and the Total Sanitation Campaign has generated a lot of enthusiasm among the rural people making it truely a people’s campaign. This was the message from President, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil while presenting the Nirmal Gram Puraskars for the year 2009 at a function held in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi today. Smt. Patil said it is essential that the presidents of Gram Panchayats play a pivotal role in sanitation promotion as they reflect the will of the people at grass root level. She called on all the winning panchayats to sustain the level of sanitation they have achieved. Over 1000 awardees and invitees gathered for Nirmal Gram Puraskar function today where 28 Block Panchayats and 2 District Panchayats having attained the status of Nirmal status of being open defacation free received the award from the President.The President quoting the emphasis on the rural development by the father of nation Mahatma Gandhi said he also gave priority for the spread of awareness among the villagers about the importance of Sanitation. She suggested to enlist best practices of implementing TSC for the benefit of other participants and said that with the increased awareness we will be able to construct and manage better toilets and also set the highest standards of sanitation in the country. Highlighting the need of toilet facilities in schools, anganwadies, the President said the need of the hour was to give prominence to the role of women in villages. It would be imperative to have the women Self Help Groups, anganwadi and other women institutions as an integral part of the campaign. Since more than 70% of our countrymen resides in rural areas, it becomes important to better their lives, make them aware about sanitation, arrange for their education, Health, clean drinking water, provision of electricity, informing them for the eradication of evil practices and to make the environment pollution free as the key to all round rural development. The President referred to NREGA, the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, National Rural Self Employment Scheme, National Rural Health Mission and said there should be proper opportunities of enhancing productivity in villages so that the rural people are not only a mute spectator of country’s progress but also take part in it. Highlighting the role of PRIs , she said the benefits of development must reach out to the targeted groups.

In her welcome address, the Minister of State for Rural Development, Ms. Agatha Sangma said the patronage of President has helped tremendously in implementing the sanitation program in a more effective manner.

The Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Dr. C.P.Joshi while addressing the gathering said the Panchayati Raj Institutions have made great contribution towards improving the quality of life of people living in rural areas by giving high priority to sanitation. Expressing gratitude towards the President for the cause of sanitation Dr. Joshi conveyed admiration and deep appreciation for the award winners of NGP-2009 for their exemplary work in promotion of rural sanitation in their respective areas. He also said that consumption of unsafe drinking water and lack of sanitation facilities has been the major cause of disease in developing countries resulting in high child and adult mortality rates particularly in the rural areas. The Minister said the Nirmal Gram Puraskar has ignited the imagination of Gram Panchayats in the country to take forward the sanitation agenda to the grass roots and transforming the TSC into a mass movement. Inspite of raising the bar and making qualification criteria more stringent, this year, about 5400 Gram Panchayats have qualified for Nirmal Gram Puraskar, which would be be conferred the award in their respective states.

The vote of thanks was given by Smt. Rajwant Sandhu, Secretary , Department of Drinking Water Supply. The function was attended by a large gathering including the Minister of State for Rural Development Shree Pradeep Kumar Jain “Aditya” and Shri Mihir Shah, Member Planning Commission.

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(Release ID :54152)