Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates today promised to extend all support to Centre's efforts to expand the reach and effectiveness of sustainable sanitation services under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and Gates, who is Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, discussed at length implementation of the sanitation campaign in urban areas of the country.
"Foundation's cooperation with India to promote safe and sustainable sanitation services to all is one of its best partnerships," Gates said after the meeting.
The foundation had signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the UD Ministry to promote sanitation services in January this year.
Naidu informed Gates that "after a slow start, all the states are now becoming pro-active to ensure cleanliness following huge enthusiasm generated among the public about sanitation in urban areas.
"Clean India can’t be achieved overnight but a good beginning has been made in that direction and efforts are to make Swachh Bharat Mission a people's movement."
The Microsoft founder referred to various approaches to promote sanitation and suggested that attention needs to be paid to fecal sludge management which gives better returns in terms of health impacts.
Gates stressed on the need to set up decentralized sludge processing facilities for processing of fecal matter.
He noted that individual toilets have been built on a large scale in Africa but their usage is low and emphasised the need for bringing quality toilet technologies to the people.
Gates expressed happiness with the ongoing cooperation with the Ministry and assured it of full support to further collective goals around expanding the reach and effectiveness of safe and sustainable sanitation services to people of India.
Naidu said that along with construction of individual and community toilets, the government is focusing on solid waste and septage management. Policy initiatives for promoting procurement of energy and compost produced from municipal solid waste are at an advanced stage of consideration.
UD Secretary Madhusudan Prasad and senior officials of the Ministry and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also participated in the discussion.