Nirmal Gram Puraskar for East to be given at Guwahati

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Guwahati, Oct 3 (UNI) With the Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP) providing the incentive to the government's total sanitation programme, the Union Rural Development Ministry today announced of giving away the awards for the eastern region in Guwahati in view of the large number of winners expected.

''After the large number of winners last year, the Ministry has decided to give the awards in different locations across the country, with President Pratibha Patil, who hands over the prize, kindly agreeing to travel to different parts,'' Shantha Sheela Nair, Union Secretary, Department of Drinking Water Supply, Ministry of Rural Development, said here.

The number of winners had touched 5,000 last year, while there were only 50 in the year of introduction in 2005 and 1,000 in 2006.

Informing that about 4,000 applications have been received from the eastern region this year, Ms Nair added that Sikkim had applied for the award, emerging as the only state in the region so far to have applied for the complete state.

Besides the eight North Eastern states, including Sikkim, the eastern region would include West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Ms Nair informed that the President would give away the award here on October 20, with winners likely to be over 1,000 in the eastern region.

''We have received 30,000 applications across the country this year and the total number of winners could be over 10,000,'' she added.

Disclosing that Assam's sanitation cover was 60 per cent, which was above the national average of 56 per cent, Ms Nair said, ''Total sanitation is must for public health.'' She, however, added that the number of winners from Assam had been less, though it was expected to be reversed.

She also held discussions with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi during her day-long visit.

The Union Secretary said the government planned to achieve complete sanitation by 2012, three years before the deadline fixed by the United Nations in its millennium goal for all the nations.

Maintaining that the NGP was an encouraging factor towards that end, she said sanitation cover in the country was 22 per cent in 2005, which shot up to 56 per cent last year and this award was also a major factor behind it.

''National recognition and monetary incentives are motivating factors also,'' she added.

UNI SG DPM DB1637

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