clean-india-1Faced with the issues of hygiene and sanitation in the country, especially at important tourist destinations, a workshop on ‘Campaign Clean India’, was organized by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India at Hotel Ashok, New Delhi, on December 20, 2011.

The importance of a clean India is increasingly felt for boosting tourism, which is a key factor in economic development and employment generation. One aspect that has impacted tourism in our country, both international and domestic, relates to hygiene. This factor has become a major one for full realization of our tourism potential. Cleanliness and proper hygiene are universally regarded as indispensable existential norms that must inform and permeate all our actions. However, a consciousness in terms of education, demonstration and training needs to be created to ensure that these norms become part of a national psyche, at home and outside. Adequate personal and environmental cleanliness has a major impact on the image of India and the tourism sector, where the first impression of a visitor is often his last.

Comprehensive Strategy

The Ministry of Tourism has therefore, visualized an India that will attract a visitor, to begin with, for its cleanliness and hygiene. Towards this end, the Ministry has decided to evolve a comprehensive strategy to effect cleanliness, specific to tourist destinations under the initiative ‘Campaign Clean India’, which will employ a balanced approach towards persuasion, education, sensitization, training, demonstration and regulation for achieving its goal.

The Ministry will give the Campaign a full-fledged institutional back-up and allocate funds in the 12th Five-Year Plan, targeting over 12% increase in the tourist inflow. It has taken up this gigantic task to boost both domestic and international tourism in the country by providing tourist destinations and the surroundings acceptable levels of cleanliness and hygiene. This would involve both public and private partnerships, and also commitment and dedicated efforts keeping in view the country’s rich cultural and historic heritage.

clean-india-2Hon’ble Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. The function was presided over by the Hon’ble Sh. Subodh Kant Sahai, Minister of Tourism. Others present at the inaugural ceremony of the workshop were Hon’ble Sh. Dinesh Trivedi, Minister of Railways, Hon’ble Sh. T.K.A. Nair, Advisor to the Prime Minister’s Office, Hon’ble Sh. Arun Maira, Member, Planning Commission, Hon’ble Sh. Sultan Ahmed, Minister of State for Tourism, Hon’ble Sh. Shatrughan Sinha, M.P., Hon’ble Sh. Chiranjeevi, M.L.A., Dr. Subbarami Reddy, M.P., Hon’ble Sh. Vinay Mittal, Chairman, Railway Board and Hon’ble Sh. R.H. Khwaja, Secretary, Tourism, besides eminent persons in the fields of sports, health, non-governmental organizations, travel trade, literature, art and the media.

After lighting the ceremonial lamp, the Secretary of Tourism gave the welcome address. He spoke of India’s diverse culture, customs, traditions and rich heritage. He pointed out that only 0.62 per cent of tourists come to India, one of the major reasons being hygienic conditions and cleanliness even at well-known tourist destinations like Taj Mahal in Agra. He was however happy that the Minister of Tourism has now shown great interest, but hastened to add that no breakthrough was possible unless and until all stakeholders work as “one family with one mission and one vision”.

He lamented that the maxim, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, is not followed and applied in the day-to-day life by public at large. This principle needs to be followed at the grassroots level. He concluded his speech with an Urdu couplet.

More Infrastructure

 

clean-india-3Hon’ble Sh. Devesh Chaturvedi, Additional Director-General, Tourism, gave the statistics of tourist inflow, foreign exchange earnings and requirements of infrastructure. A film was shown depicting the attitude of the public towards hygiene and cleanliness. He said that Cine star Aamir Khan is the brand Ambassador for this cause and the adage Atithi Devo Bhava should be followed in letter and spirit by all in the tourism sector.

Hon’ble Sh. Vinay Mittal, Chairman, Railway Board, in his speech, said, “Indian Railways is the only mode of transport that offers the tourists means and opportunities to see India in all her beauty and splendour. The Indian Railways would participate in the Campaign and help the Tourism Department to carry its mission forward, he added.

Hon’ble Sh. Arun Maira recalled the days of Smt. Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister of India, when foreign tourists went to see not only the Taj Mahal in Agra but also the factories of Tata in Pune, noted for their utmost cleanliness. He praised the Ministry of Tourism for taking the lead in launching the ‘Clean India Campaign’.

Hon’ble Sh. T.K.A. Nair congratulated the Tourism Minister for taking the initiative through a massive campaign against filth and squalor in the country.

Hon’ble Sh. Shatrughan Sinha offered his support and solidarity for the campaign which, he said, should focus on the need for more infrastructure such as toilets and dust-bins and counselling on hygiene and cleanliness, not only in Patna or Varanasi, but all over the country.

Sulabh’s Co-operation

Hon’ble Sh. Dinesh Trivedi, Hon’ble Minister of Railways, said that in the Railways, the most difficult task is to keep the toilets clean as 19,000 trains move every single day and 2.2 crore passengers travel daily. He wanted to partner with the Tourism Ministry to keep the tracks and railway platforms clean. He said he had even thought of contacting Sulabh Founder, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, to help him in this regard and luckily he saw him sitting right in front of him. He requested Dr. Pathak to discuss with him ways and means to find a solution to this gigantic problem.

He said, poverty, illiteracy and environment are inter-related. Commitment for character building and discipline for excellent team work are important to achieve the desired results. He also spoke on the need for clean water supply to prevent vector-borne diseases caused by mixing of drainage with drinking water. He wanted necessary infrastructure to be constructed and kept clean, taking a cue from the Delhi or Kolkata Metro. Religious leaders too, can play important roles in teaching, educating and influencing the masses. He said garbage should be looked at as an asset and as a business model. Hence, mind-set needed to be changed as it was a social problem. Calling it a historic day for the country, he extended his full commitment towards the cause of a ‘Clean India’.

Hon’ble Sh. Chiranjeevi, M.L.A. and super-star of the film world in the South, said that lack of hygiene and cleanliness and political-will posed a big barrier to tourism promotion. “We, as a nation, a society and a group of persons need to put our best foot forward. Practising basic civic sense is very important as cleanliness will only help in strengthening a great nation like ours”, he said.

clean-india-4Dr. Subbarami Reddy emphasized that religious places visited by tourists in large numbers should be kept clean. For protection of the environment in all fields we must first concentrate on cleanliness.

Hon’ble Sh. Subodh Kant Sahai, Minister for Tourism, told the august gathering: “Your participation and partnership is required for the tourism sector. Domestic tourism is handling 5 to 6 million people, much less than that of other countries despite our rich heritage because of state of hygiene, which is our main concern. The number of people in the religious circuits such as Buddhist Circuit, Sufi circuit, Jaini circuit, etc. is affected for the same reason. However, he described the day as a starting point for meeting of the minds. He hoped the campaign, which was launched in partnership with other Ministries and all stakeholders, would succeed.

Hon’ble Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, gave an inspiring speech that held the audience spell-bound. He said clean thinking leads to clean ideas and clean action and finally a clean, happy and peaceful India. He spoke on the topic ‘Clean Environment Empowers the Society’. India aspired to be a developed nation by the year 2020 in another nine years time. “With increasing population the magnitude of the pressure on the environment was rising proportionately. Growth must be sustainable and we must ensure that it does not make the environment non-liveable. Clean environment would attract international and national tourists”.

Hon’ble Dr. Kalam said he had observed three important programmes in some states and abroad: firstly, municipal waste and energy formation; the Municipal waste is a threat to the environment but can be a good source of energy; secondly fly ash as an economic activity and finally synergy mission for environmental upgradation.

‘Clean India Campaign’ could be successfully conducted first by tackling the garbage disposal – always a major technological challenge – and thus reducing the urban pollute on, Hon’ble Dr. Kalam said.

He said, “Land use for fly ash dumping could be avoided. When fly ash is mixed with soil, there is no toxic element in it. It can become a wealth generator by making use of it for agriculture, producing green vegetables. 40 million tonnes has the potential to provide employment to thousands of people every year. As a nation, we need to keep our environment clean including all places of worship and rivers. People’s participation is most important.”

People’s Pledge

 

clean-india-5Hon’ble Dr. Kalam added: “The Tourism Ministry can help keep rivers near tourist places clean and make them attractive. 500,000 people go every day for prayers for happiness and peace. Every person must take an oath on the occasion to keep his environment clean as thanksgiving to the gods. Boards on display could help them do this.

“Scientific Mapping tools can enable students and the community to make maps to improve the condition and connectivity of roads, the sources of water and better electricity sub-stations for the overall improvement of the environment. Mapping the neighbourhood project should be implemented in schools.

 

“Such steps enable us to make our villages, districts and states clean. The NGOs have been able to segregate and manage the waste of the Panchayats, forming many self-help groups where the entire garbage is converted into manure, benefiting several families and providing employment opportunities to a large number of people. The Tourism Ministry should take up such schemes in partnership with the Ministry of Panchayati Raj.”

clean-india-6In the next session of the workshop the participants were divided into five groups: The Academic Group, the Group of Institutional Volunteers, the Travel Trade Group, the Corporate Group and the Media Group. After three months the recommendations of the groups would be converted to mission mode for sustainability over a long time and create jobs for crores of young boys and girls in rural India.

In the post lunch plenary session, Hon’ble Sh. Ravi Krishan, star of Bhojpuri films joined the session later and spoke on the unhygienic conditions in the cities in U.P. and interiors of Bihar, Mumbai, etc. and the holy river Ganga due to the callous attitude of people and how distressing it was. He mentioned that fines and penalties abroad made people more conscious of cleanliness.

Hon’ble Smt. Shiela Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi, praised the Tourism Ministry and said it was important to teach children to conserve the environment and be cleaner because resources were not unlimited. She praised the clean Sulabh Shauchalayas but lamented that people did not keep it clean after using it. “The debris of houses being constructed is generally dumped outside on the roads. People are not willing to pay for garbage collection from their houses”. She said schools were the place to inculcate good habits and hoped children would take up all these issues. She had great faith that they would inherit a much cleaner and better India. “All resources needed to be put together for this. The culture of cleanliness has to be developed in society and in our own cultural ethos”.

Hon’ble Sh. Sahai requested for the partnership of the Delhi Government to bring about awareness and cleanliness. It would also have a hundred Ambassadors from different walks of life. The Tourism Ministry would have a convergence meeting with the different Ministries for a ‘Clean India’.

Hon’ble Kumari Selja, Minister of Urban Poverty Alleviation and Housing & Culture, said it had to be an attitudinal change and not be restricted to cleanliness in places of tourism only. Those travelling abroad marvel at the experience there but come back and criticize the scenario here. She asked, “How many people actually imbibe the spirit of cleanliness. During the 150th year on celebration of the Archeological Survey of India, most of the 3677 monuments were being protected by ASI. They are conserving the monuments to the best of their ability for visitors and future generations. In India tourism is largely based on heritage and the tourists like to see a part of our culture. So it is important to keep the monuments clean with hygienic surroundings. Unfortunately they are less than world-class”.

She informed the audience that an MoU between HUDCO and ASI is to be signed to build toilets. Naming the Sulabh Founder, Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, she hoped Sulabh would partner with her ministry to help maintain the toilets to keep them clean. It could be a win-win situation for all. She was happy that different groups were deliberating on the matter together and hoped that a bit of persuasion and a bit of strictness in implementation of fines would improve the situation. She congratulated the Tourism Minister for the good work of his ministry, Smt. Sheila Dixit and the Railway Minster for the great job that they were doing. At the end of the day, Hon’ble Sh. Sultan Ahmed, Minister of State for Tourism proposed a Vote of Thanks.