Harpic Mission Paani launched India’s first-ever ‘Sanitation for All Pledge and Preamble: Clean Water, Sustainable Sanitation’ with Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and five prominent women leaders- Kausar Munir (Lyricist), Savita Punia (Indian Hockey Player), Smriti Mandhana (Indian Cricketer), Bhavina Patel (Indian par athlete and table tennis player) and Lovlina Borgohain (Indian Boxer, Olympian) at the Mission Paani Sanitation Forum on World Toilet Day.
The event also witnessed the unveiling of a first-of-its-kind Coffee Table Book ‘101 Stories of Inspiration’ endorsed by Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu. The book is a showcase of hope and inspiration stories of sanitation workers in India. The book compiled by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing Council is a tribute to these workers who have risked their lives to create a cleaner and more hygienic environment by taking care of our cleanliness and sanitation needs. The stories are of individuals who have transformed their lives from manual scavenging to a more dignified livelihood.
"I congratulate News18 and Mission Paani for connecting the entire country with this important mission. Access to clean water and toilets are not just necessities but also a basic right of citizens. It is extremely important that after 75 years of Independence, we work together to give safe water and toilets to every home in the country. India will only be healthy if it has clean drinking water and clean air to breathe. The government has launched several missions to achieve these goals but larger public participation and collaborations are must to achieve success. The government has adopted the mission of Mahatma Gandhi and all public representatives should collectively campaign for clean cities and clean India," Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said.
Speaking on the occasion, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of Jal Shakti, said, "The Prime Minister of India had set a target of making the country open defecation-free and we are proud that we achieved the target 11 years ahead of the target set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is just a step that we have reached towards our mission of a clean and healthy India. A lot of work is being done in rural areas in liquid and solid waste management. Every citizen should pledge to work towards sanitation and access to safe water so that we can walk together towards making a new India."
Aligned to Swachh Bharat Mission and UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Harpic Mission Paani is committed to work towards raising awareness and mobilising action that ensures ‘Leaving No One Behind’. India’s first ever preamble for inclusive sanitation is a step towards collectively promoting an inclusive ecosystem that reinforces our need to come together to create a cleaner and healthier world.
Gaurav Jain, Senior Vice President, South Asia, Reckitt, commented, “Reckitt’s fight, is to make access to the highest quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment a right, and not a privilege. Today, on World Toilet Day, we are reinforcing our commitment to create an ecosystem to enable access to water supply and sanitation provision which are essential to eradicate poverty. We are bringing the country together to take a pledge to uphold India’s first-ever Preamble for safe water and sanitation. Safe water and safer toilets mean a healthier nation; this must emerge as one of the most critical human rights components in the country’s development narrative.”
The Sanitation Pledge written by renowned lyricist Kausar Munir aims to bring together people from all walks of life to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all. The pledge is endorsed by Jal Jeevan Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission.
Akshay Kumar, Actor and Campaign Ambassador for Mission Paani, added, “In the last few years, India has made rapid progress in improving sanitation and ending open defecation across the country. But still a significant population does not have access to toilets and clean drinking water. I am glad that through the Mission Paani initiative, Reckitt and Network18 Group are trying to push for a behavioural change by making us take the sanitation pledge. A lack of sanitation not only impacts health but also holds back economic growth. It is imminent for all of us to support this initiative and take the message to a larger number of people, especially in rural India.”
Avinash Kaul, Chief Executive Officer, Network18 and Managing Director, A + E Networks, TV18, said, “With the sanitation for all pledge, we aim to bring together people from all walks of life, including policy makers and celebrities, to join the campaign for improving sanitation and access to clean water and toilets across the country. Being the largest news network in India, it’s also our responsibility to drive action led conversations around this very critical subject that impacts the health of millions.”
The World Toilet Day event witnessed participation from prominent public figures from India and across the globe. The conversations were stirred towards advocating access to sustainable sanitation and safe water as one of the most critical human rights. The forum also called for the Indian citizens to collectively undertake efforts to promote inclusion systems, keeping in mind the concerns of under-resourced genders, castes, classes, and abilities. Live reports from Harpic World Toilet Colleges in Rishikesh and Patiala, special interviews and journeys of achievers, were also featured during the event.
Harpic Mission Paani aims to reach out to over 20 million Indians to drive behaviour change on toilet use and maintenance across India through on-ground partners and Network18 by 2022. The program will focus on WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) to help enable safe and clean toilets for all and ‘leaving no one behind’ and the success of the program will be measured through Swachh Sarvekshan rankings. From six World Toilet Colleges in 2021, Harpic plans to have 15 colleges spread across India. These World Toilet Colleges will benefit over 2 lakh sanitation workers and their extended families.
The pledge was taken at the Rashtriya Swachhta Kendra, a centre that has been built as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, to drive focus on access to clean drinking water and toilets for all, cleanliness, safe sanitation cycle (build, use, maintain, treat and reuse), to maintain the integrity of groundwater and surface water, safer toilets for healthier lives, and a clean, green life.