New Delhi, Nov 18: With an aim to spread the message of total sanitation and to put an end to the scourge of open defecation, a three-day International Toilet Festival began here today, on the eve of World Toilet Day.
Around 900 students from nine Delhi schools; delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan; a group of liberated manual scavengers and about 100 widows from Vrindavan took part in the event organised by Sulabh International at New Delhi's Central Park.
Following a walkathon, the students, carrying placards, came together to form a human chain who were later administered a pledge of cleanliness. Hailing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of having a toilet built in every household by 2019, Sulabh International Founder Bindeshwar Pathak said that the country may finally get to realise Mahatma Gandhi's dream of total sanitation.
"Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister to have emphasised this much on the issue of sanitation. Even the developed countries have not emphasised as much," he said.
Lamenting the fact that previous governments did not adopt the "Sulabh model" he expressed hope that the Modi government will replicate it, which he claimed will help the government in achieving its objective of total sanitation.
"Our model has helped in putting an end to large scale open defecation in many areas apart from liberating many manual scavengers. The Alwar and Tonk model should be replicated all over the country," he said. As per Census 2011, over 67 per cent rural households of the country do not have access to toilets leading to large scale open defecation.