The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) India, in association with with technical support from UNICEF India organized a two day event that was held in Ladakh. It brought together leaders of different religions as well as over 300 people including scholars, students and local community members.
Members of the religious fraternity from Haridwar and Rishikesh joined the inter-faith meet taking pledge for clean surroundings. The “Sarva Dharma Swachhta Evam Sadbhavna Sankalp” brought together everyone who cares for public health and sanitation.
The Union Minister of Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan and the union minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation Narendra Singh Tomar inaugurated the Summit by lighting the lamp.
Summit was organized to discuss the multiple issues of inequity, lack of access and other related issues in the region, with special focus on minority populations.
Mahamandaleshwar Swami Harichetanand of Udasin Bada Akhada and Chidanand Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan Rishikesh initiated a discussion on critical issues of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Health).
The special interfaith Peace Garden was inaugurated at the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre and the foundation of a bio-toilet was shared. The bio-toilet will be built near the centre's Meditation Hall, which previously lacked sanitation facilities.
Speaking at the summit, the convener of the programme, Chidanand Saraswati said, “Inter-faith leaders have come together on this sacred land of Ladakh as a testament to so much that connects and binds us. Today, we join together to serve as one, ensuring clean water, sanitation and hygiene for all.”
Addressing the gathering the union minister Harsh Vardhan said, “Science and technology has also supported Swachh Bharat Mission all along the way by innovation and research, like waste management, toilet technology, water purification etc. Through this mission we have shown that waste can be turned into wealth.”
The Summit concluded with a historic pledge and water blessing ceremony on the banks of the Sindhu River, at the Sindhu Darshan Ghat, in Leh-Ladakh. All dignitaries gathered together to offer the water of the river onto the globe as a symbol and a prayer that all of humanity should have access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene. Faith leaders along with dignitaries joined hands to reiterate the Sankalp (commitment) for sanitation.