A P J Abdul Kalam to inaugurate WTS

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New Delhi, Oct 16: Touted as the biggest international event in the field of sanitation, India will host the four-day Seventh World Toilet Summit (WTS) in October-November with the aim of achieving a progressive standardisation of public toilet services across the globe and improving quality of life in pursuance of the Millennium Development Goal (MGD).

The six earlier summits were held in Singapore (2001), South Korea (2002), Taiwan (2003), China (2004), Northern Ireland (2005) and Russia (2006).

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam will inaugurate the WTS, to be held between October 31 and November 3. It is being organised by Sulabh International in collaboration with World Toilet Organisation, Singapore and the Indian Goverment, and will have 'Toilet for All' as its theme.

Sulabh founder Bindeshwar Pathak told reporters here today that the event would attract a number of experts and sanitation activists from around 40 countries, who would exchange their views and showcase technologies and products towards standardisation of public toilet services.

Dr Pathak, credited with pioneering the sanitation movement in India, said the event would provide a stimulating platform for networking, sharing of ideas and sourcing solutions and innovations for the improvement of toilets and hygiene standards.

''The main aim of this world summit is to develop strategies to widen the sanitation coverage,'' he said, adding that the event would serve as ''an excellent meeting opportunity'' for the exchange of information, ideas and knowhow on toilet-related topics.

A large number of delegates from foreign countries, UN agencies, NGOs, local bodies, town planners and policy makers are likely to take part to discuss the issue of sanitation and sustainable development during the summit.

Dr Pathak, who was recently conferred an award at the European Parliament in Brussels, said the World Toilet Organisation had chosen Sulabh to organise the event, recognising its contribution in the field of sanitation movement and indigenous low cost toilet system.

He said 2.6 billion people, more than 40 per cent of the world population, do not use toilet, and defecate in the open or at unsanitary places.

The Millennium Development Goal-7 seeks to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, which is still a colossal task before the world community.

A Padma Bhushan recipient, Dr Pathak is known for developing low-cost toilet technology which he had designed over three decades ago and which is now becoming a byword for sanitation in developing countries.

Last month, he was honoured with Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar which is given to the pioneers who come out with ideas and projects that can reduce pollution and are environment friendly.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in its latest Human Development Report, had also appreciated the Sulabh founder's initiatives in bringing about a change.

''Sulabh has emerged as one of the world's largest non-governmental providers of sanitation facilities,'' the report said.

Dr Kalam, in his latest book, Mission India, has also mentioned the contribution of Dr Pathak in the field of sanitation and liberation of scavengers.

UNI

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