Jharkhand to become open defecation free by November 15: Uma Bharti

New Delhi (IANS): With the current rate of sanitation coverage in Jharkhand, the state will become open defecation free (ODF) by November 15, Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation Uma Bharti said on Sunday.

Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar on November 15, 2000 to create a separate state.

She was speaking at the 'Ganga Gram Swachchhata Sammelan' at Rajmahal, Jharkhand.

"Ganga Gram" is a concept to transform the banks of the Ganga river there into ideal villages with emphasis on ODF, solid and liquid waste management, water conservation, groundwater recharge, modern crematorium, tree plantation, and organic and medicinal plant agriculture, a government statement said. 

In this regard, Bharti stressed upon public participation as a key to making the Ganga bank villages ideal "Ganga Grams". 

"Participate in solid and liquid waste management activities, do not litter around and pollute water sources, and take care of waste management to promote organic farming," she said. 

Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, highlighted the societal and financial gains from the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) and said that in the past four years, sanitation coverage has gone up from a low 39 per cent to over 95 per cent in rural areas. 

Citing reports from organisations such as Unicef and WHO, he said that a family in an ODF village saves on an average Rs 50,000 annually on its medical expenditure. "With such a growth, Swachh Bharat Mission would have saved about three lakh lives by October 2019," he said. 

Bharti also laid the foundation stone of the Maskalaiyya Crematorium and Ghat and the Municipal Waste Water Project at Rajmahal. 

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