Ujjain, May 4: A grand assembly of prominent religious leaders representing different faiths on Wednesday, May 4 appealed for a 'Swachhta Kranti' (cleanliness revolution) across the country at the ongoing Simhastha Kumbh Mela here.
The religious heads of different faiths implored the people of India to rise together so that India can shine as a global example of cleanliness. People must do all they can to ensure that nation's lands and rivers are kept open-defecation free through the use of eco-friendly toilets, they said.
"The world is as we dream it, and it is time for a new dream. Every day, 1,200 children die needlessly in India due to lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. The deaths are a result of our bad habits. We can change that, by changing our ways, we change the world," Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Co-founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and president of Parmarth Niketan Rishikesh said.
The leaders belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Islam, Christian and Jain religions were brought together by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), with support from UNICEF. "Unsafe water and sanitation services and poor hygiene practices contribute to childhood illnesses including diarrhea, sepsis and pneumonia.
These three diseases are major killers in children below five years of age," Chief, WASH Section, UNICEF India, Sue Coates said. "Evidence tells us that over 80 per cent of diarrheal diseases can be prevented by families and mothers using a toilet, drinking safe water and washing hands with soap before food and after defection."
"Faith leaders are big influences at community and household level by helping to influence change mind-sets so that everyone, for example, uses a toilet, hence UNICEF supports this movement and their critical role," she added.