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Total sanitation across the country by 2012
April 27, 2007 15:57 IST
Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told a news conference that every home in the country would have a toilet facility by that time.
Estimates, however, show more than half of the country's rural population still defecates in the open, along roadsides, railway tracks and fields.
But the minister cited a massive increase over the past three years in the number of Panchayati Raj Insititutions receiving the rural sanitation award as an encouraging sign for the government's total sanitation campaign launched in 2003.
"Earlier, we believed we will be able to achieve total sanitation by 2015. But now, we can say with absolute certainty that the country will be free of open defecation by 2012," he remarked.
Singh announced that 4,437 PRIs would receive this year's Nirmal Gram Puraskar on May 4 at an event where President A P J Abdul Kalam would be the chief guest.
"As it will not be possible for the President to give away awards physically to each one of 4,437 awardees, he will move about the venue (Delhi's Ambedkar Stadium) in a carriage, while they hold awards in their hands," the minister said.
A maximum number of 1,912 PRIs named for the award belong to Maharashtra, followed by 474 from Uttar Pradesh and 381 from Gujarat in the list of 14 states.
In 2005, altogether 40 PRIs received what is deemed the government's most prestigious award for sanitation.