Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the Centre’s flagship Swachh Bharat Mission has played an important role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The prime minister inaugurated the Rashtriya Swachhta Kendra, an interactive experience centre in Delhi, to showcase the cleanliness mission drive undertaken by the government.

“Would lockdown have been possible if we did not have the Swachh Bharat Mission,” Modi asked at the inaugural address. “Would we have fought Covid-19 well? It has strengthened us and empowered us in the fight against corona and we need to continue this habit of cleanliness. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has been a big support in fight against coronavirus.”

He told a group of 36 students, picked to represent the 36 states and Union Territories of the country, to follow physical distancing norms and adopt a hygienic way of living amid the coronavirus crisis. “We all are a part of the [cleanliness] campaign now,” Modi said, adding that the whole world was coming together to adopt the values of Mahatma Gandhi.

The prime minister also said that the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra is a tribute to Gandhi’s efforts towards cleanliness. It was first announced by Modi on April 10, 2017, on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of Gandhi’s Champaran satyagraha.

Modi announced a week-long campaign from August 8 to 15 to free India of garbage.