BJP member pitches for making cleanliness fundamental duty

New Delhi, Nov 22 (PTI) BJP member Prabhat Jha on Friday brought a private member's constitutional amendment bill in Rajya Sabha to make cleanliness and sanitation a fundamental duty.

However, discussion on the bill remained inconclusive as Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri would reply next week.

No member expressed reservation against or opposed the bill.

Moving the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (amendment of article 51A), which deals with fundamental duties of citizens, Jha said there was a need to expand cleanliness drive in the country.

'Swachh Bharat mission should be a part of the fundamental duties and for that there is a need to amend the Constitution,' he said in the Upper House.

He said it was important to make citizens aware of their responsibilities towards maintaining cleanliness not only in their homes but outside as well.

The Constitution already has 11 fundamental duties listed as of now.

Jha said the country has become open defecation free and the credit for achieving the milestone should go to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he worked tirelessly towards the mission.

He said that over 10 crore toilets have been constructed in the country so far under the Swachh Bharat Mission which has led to lesser cases of diarrhoea.

'Over three lakh lives are being saved every year due to less prevalence of this disease,' he claimed.

Jha cited examples of Mahatma Gandhi in creating awareness about cleanliness in the country. He also praised Sulabh International Founder Bindeshwar Pathak for working tirelessly in the field.

Vikas Mahatme (BJP) said by including cleanliness in the fundamental duties, people would become more aware of the issue.

Supporting the bill, he said that if cleared the legislation would help in making the country clean.

PL Punia (Congress) said the issue of cleanliness should be kept above party politics, adding while in power, the UPA government also worked towards the mission to clean the country under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan.

Countering Jha's submission that India has become open defecation free, he said that majority of the toilets built across rural parts of the country were being used as stores or for other purposes.

'It is like any other jumla that the country has become open defecation free. It is not the truth,' Punia said.

Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD), while supporting the bill, said it was also important to have mental cleanliness in addition to having a clean outside environment.

'Swachhta would only look good if mental cleanliness is also there... It is now that we hear people praising the murderer of Mahatma Gandhi..we need to introspect where have we reached,' he added.

Rakesh Sinha, a nominated member, said Modi through Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has tried to break the practice of manual scavenging, which was being passed on from one generation to another.

He said it was an important topic and people should rise above political compulsion for the larger benefit of the society L Hanumanthaiah of the Congress said the entire work to clean India was started by the previous government under the name of the Nirmal Bharat.

He also raised concerns over the societal status of manual scavengers saying that they are even treated worse than animals in the society.

'Although we are following the principles of Gandhiji, but according to recent reports, the number of people taking human excreta on their head is around two lakhs,' he said, adding that they are not even being paid minimum wages.

D P Vats of the BJP said that there is a need to restore the dignity of labour and the wages of the people engaged in cleanliness should be increased and made lucrative.

Anee Yajnik of the Congress said that there is a need to inculcate humanity among the people, which is now missing. Cleaning should be a fundamental duty.

Kanta Kardam of the BJP said that Uttar Pradesh government has taken sincere steps and has constructed over two crore toilets in the state as per its cleanliness drive. It is also now constructing community toilets in the state.

Mahant Shambhuprasadji Tundiya also spoke on the occasion. PTI MSS KRH KKS ZMN