NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet 'Swachh Bharat' mission today came in for sharp criticism by a top UN expert who said it "lacked a holistic human rights approach".
United Nation Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation Leo Heller presented a preliminary report of his visit to India at a press conference where he insisted that the Centre's emphasis on building toilets "should not overshadow" the focus on provision of drinking water to all.
"In the last two weeks I have visited rural and urban areas, slums and settlement camps where undocumented population is residing... and I have found that these initiatives lack a more human rights approach," he said.
A press release by the office of the High Commissioner, United Nations Human Rights, on the issue drew strong criticism from the government. The release was distributed at the press conference.
"Everywhere I went, I saw the logo of the Clean India Mission- (Mahatma) Gandhi's glasses. In its third year of implementation, now is a critical time to replace the lens of those glasses with the human rights lens," Heller was quoted in the release as having told the media.
Taking a strong note of his remarks on the logo of the Clean India Mission, the government issued a statement deploring it showed "serious insensitivity towards the Father of our Nation".
The statement said the world knows that the Mahatma was the foremost proponent of human rights.