New Delhi, Oct 15 Common people's mindset towards swachhta (cleanliness) is changing ever since the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched in the country, Union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation Ram Kripal Yadav said here on Saturday.
"People's mindset towards hygiene and cleanliness is changing. People in rural areas are increasingly building toilets inside their houses and general cleanliness in the villages is also being taken care of," Yadav said while interacting with mediapersons at the conclusion of Swachhta Pakhwara (Cleanliness Fortnight).
However, he said, to achieve the targets of the Swachh Bharat Mission by October 2, 2019, the drive has to be given the shape of a Jan Andolan (people's movement) with "active participation and cooperation of the 125 crore Indians".
The Swachh Bharat Mission was officially launched by the Narendra Modi government on October 2, 2014 with the objectives of elimination of open defecation, eradication of manual scavenging, scientific management of solid wastes, to effect behavioural change regarding healthy sanitation practices and generate awareness about sanitation and its linkage with public health.
Yadav said at present the average sanitation coverage across India is 55.73 per cent.
"When the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched, this figure was 42 per cent. Now, in just two years, we see an improvement of around 14 per cent," he said.
According to official figures, out of 6,50,000 villages in the country, 1,04,924 have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).
The minister said the states' cooperation in achieving the Swachh Bharat Mission goals is imperative.
While a few states are far above the national average in sanitation coverage (defined as percentage of households with toilets), a few others including Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha are in the red zone, that is, below the national average.
The states faring poorly in sanitation coverage include Bihar (25 per cent), Jammu and Kashmir (34 per cent), Odisha (34 per cent) and Uttar Pradesh (46 per cent).
"Although I hail from Bihar, but I am saddened to say that Bihar is lagging behind in sanitation coverage. I think more efforts need to be put in the states which are lagging behind," he said.