New Delhi, May 30 : Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has invited Bill and Milenda Gates Foundation for partnerships in the country in developing low-cost sanitation solutions. Sixty percent of India's population still defecates in the open.
Jairam, who is also minister for drinking water and sanitation, met Bill Gates and his team members here and called for launching a global joint initiative for developing low-cost technological solutions for clean toilets in railways also. The meeting lasted almost an hour.
According to an official press release, Ramesh also sought help in devising behavioural change and communication pilot models on the lines of pulse polio campaign for toilet use in India.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had launched the 'reinventing the toilet' initiative in Rwanda last year to help bring safe, clean sanitation services to millions of poor people in the developing world.
Ramesh called upon Gates for more focus on India as the country accounts for 58 percent of open defecations in the world and the problem was daunting in the rural areas.
He said the foundation can partner with Indian research institutions and his ministry to co-develop low-cost sanitation solutions.
The minister also sought Rs.200 crore for the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) to improve the living condition of people in the central India's tribal belt.
BRLF supports civil society organizations in improving the livelihood of the extremely backward and poor people in 170 Maoist-affected districts in nine states.
The central government has already committed Rs.500 crore for the BRLF and is trying to garner another Rs.500 crore from the private sector.
The release said that Gates expressed interest in the objectives of BRLF.