Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates, was all praise for the Swachh Bharat Mission started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Bill Gates appreciated the government’s efforts during a meeting with Union Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu in the capital on Friday. The Foundation had signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with the Centre in January this year, aimed at promoting safe and sustainable sanitation services for all in India.

Speaking at the occasion, Naidu said that the states are getting more active about cleanliness due to public pressure. Gates, on the other hand, said the “Swachh Bharat Partnership” with India was one of the best cooperative associations. Naidu and Gates emphasised the need for better solid waste and sludge management which gives better returns in terms of health impacts.

Both Naidu and Bill Gates discussed the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission in urban areas in India. Naidu discussed the issue at length with Gates. Gates said in a statement put out by the Ministry of Urban Development that the Bill and Melinda Gates “Foundation’s cooperation with India to promote safe and sustainable sanitation services to all is one of its best partnerships”.

 Naidu informed Gates about the proactive efforts being taken by different states to effectively implement the Swachh Bharat Mission. “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 on to make the Swachh Bharat Mission a people’s movement,” Naidu said.

Referring to various approaches to promote sanitation, Gates suggested that “attention needs to be paid to fecal sludge management which gives better returns in terms of health impacts.”

He emphasized the need for setting up decentralised sludge processing facilities for effective processing of fecal matter. He noted that “individual toilets have been built on a large scale in Africa but their usage is low.” Gates further stressed that there is a critical need for reaching quality toilet technologies to the people. While expressing satisfaction with the ongoing cooperation with the Ministry of Urban Development, he assured full support of the foundation to advance collective goals around expanding the reach and effectiveness of safe and sustainable sanitation services to people of India.

Explaining important policy decisions for better waste management, Naidu said, “Along with construction of individual and community toilets, the government is focusing on solid waste and seepage management. Policy initiatives for promoting procurement of energy and compost produced from municipal solid waste are at an advanced stage of consideration.”

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