Sixty per cent of women do not have access to proper sanitation in India which is the "biggest blot" on a country that has otherwise successfully tested missiles and put satellites in space, Union minister Jairam Ramesh said.
"60% women in the country do not have access to toilets...We can launch missiles like Agni and satellites, but we can not provide sanitation to our women. What can be a biggest blot on the nation than this?", the rural development minister said at Nirmal Gram Puraskar-2011 distribution function and Panchayati Raj Sammelan.
India is lagging behind its neighbours Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan when it comes to providing proper sanitation to people, Ramesh, who also holds the portfolio of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said.
Mahatma Gandhi is the one and only politician in the country who sincerely worked to end the menace of open defecation, Ramesh said.
Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, a re-structured programme of Total Sanitation Campaign, would be formally launched soon, he said, adding that village panchayats concerned would be made responsible for keeping their village open-defecation free.
Ramesh said the Central government has fixed a target to make every gram panchayat as open-defecation free in next 10 years and added that the government would increase the fund under the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan from Rs. 2,200 to Rs. 9,900 per household.
While praising the Haryana government and its approach in the total sanitation campaign, the minister said that he always asked other states to follow the Haryana slogan of 'Shauchalya Nahin To Dulhan Nahin' (No toilets, No bride).
"If you continue this programme in the same pace, in three years your state will become Nirmal Haryana," he told state chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda who was present on the occasion.