PM launches ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission, says India can do it

modi-cleansNEW DELHI : Prime Minister Narendra Modi symbolically wielded the broom on Thursday to launch a nationwide campaign that aims to clean up India in five years. Modi chose the Valmiki colony in Delhi’s heart – a place which was once home to Mahatma Gandhi – to do the sweeping in a small area for a minute, in the company of party colleagues and officials.
Modi said that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan should clean up the country by 2019, the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The PM led a cleanliness pledge at India Gate, which 30 lakh government employees joined across the country
The drive, Mr Modi said, was the best tribute to Mahatma Gandhi who “gave us the message ‘Quit India, Clean India’.” He rued that Gandhi’s dream was still unfulfilled and exhorted the people to clean every corner of the country.Mr Modi also invited nine people to join the cleanliness drive and requested each of them to draw nine more into the initiative to take it viral.
Among them, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, Congressman Shashi Tharoor and actors Kamal Haasan, Priyanka Chopra and Salman Khan.The PM then flagged off a walkathon at Rajpath and walked some of the way along with participants. “This is not about Modi… Modi is only one of its 1.2 billion people… This is a people’s task,” he said.
Early this morning he visited Rajghat, the memorial to Mahatma Gandhi and then headed to Valmiki Basti, a housing colony in the capital where sanitation workers live. There, Mr Modi swept the streets in a symbolic start to the cleanliness drive.He also made a surprise stop and inspection at the Mandir Marg Police station close by. October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, is a public holiday usually, but this year the Prime Minister has ordered a full working day for government employees.
He has instructed bureaucrats and ministers to lead their departments in cleaning offices, including toilets, today.In recent days, ministers like Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani and Ram Vilas Paswan have been seen sweeping parts of their offices

Early this morning, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal was seen cleaning the streets near the Prime Minister’s residence.Mr Modi has stressed the importance of sanitation in almost all his public speeches since his May victory, vowing to make India clean by 2019, to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The campaign will cost the government over Rs. two lakh crore.

Roughly half of India’s population do not have toilets in their homes, a health and safety problem that Mr Modi has also vowed to fix. In a joint editorial written with the PM on Tuesday in the Washington Post, US President Barack Obama said that his country would help with the Clean India initiative.

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