India has more to offer to tourists than any other country but many prefer to stay away given the poor sanitation in the country, union HRD Minister Prakash Navadeskar said on Tuesday.
“We have more places worth visiting than any other country but Paris alone draws 10 times more tourists than entire India. You know why this is so? Because our tourist spots are not clean,” Javadekar said.
He was addressing a programme organised by Sulabh International to award students for the work done in keeping their schools clean.
The Minister said the same Indian who would not litter the streets of Singapore would not think twice before throwing a banana peel or a chocolate wrapper on the roads here.
Javadekar asked the students to herald “the cult of cleanliness” and said it is their parents who need more education to shed the notion that only certain people should do the work of cleaning.
The Minister praised Bindeshwar Pathak — who started Sulabh, a community toilet service at nominal price — for ushering in a “great revolution” towards sanitation.
“The creation of Sulabh is a historic step. And it has been 50 years since it was started… When it was first conceptualised, people thought who will pay to do this. But Pathakji made it possible by keeping them clean, and inculcating the same habit among others,” he said.
Pathak started Sulabh Shauchalaya service in 1970 from Bihar to cater especially to the poor. It provides bathing and laundry facilities as well.
About 4,50,000 toilets were built in government schools in one year under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Javadekar said, resulting in more girl students coming to the schools instead of dropping out as was the case earlier.
During the event, 120 students were felicitated.
The exercise is part of the Sulabh School Sanitation Club of which 6,500 students from more than 200 schools are members.
The club aims at inculcating a habit of cleanliness among students from an early age.