New Delhi: Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has said that toilets are more important in India than temples.

“Sixty-four percent of Indians defecate in open spaces, which is a global record. It is now reckoned as the main cause of India’s malnutrition problem. In the past five years, we have spent more than Rs 45,000 crore on rural sanitation and will spend Rs 1.08 lakh crore in the next five years to make India open-defecation-free country,” Ramesh said while launching the 'Nirmal Bharat Yatra' with a motto to raise awareness about sanitation.

The campaign was launched from Sewagram Ashram in Wardha district in the presence of Maharashtra's Minister for Sanitation Laxmanrao Dhoble, Minister of State for Finance and Wardha District Guardian Minister Rajendra Mulak.

The Yatra will cover a journey of 56 days across five states (Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar) spanning nearly 2000 kms. The yatra will culminate at Bettiah in Champaran, where Mahatma Gandhi started his freedom struggle.

He said Himachal Pradesh should be free from open defecation by April 2013, Haryana by April 2014, Tamil Nadu by April 2015 and Maharashtra by April 2017.

About 8.60 lakh 'Asha' activists, 14 lakh anganwadi workers and 25 lakh women from self help groups would support the campaign, Ramesh said.

The government would extend financial assistance upto Rs 10,000 for constructing individual toilets.

A total of Rs 1,86,000 crores are being spent on sanitation and safe drinking water projects,he said.


Latest News from India News Desk