New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (SBM) has become a "people's movement" with a large participation of women, noting that the decision to hike compensation will benefit around 25 lakh Anganwadi workers and their families.

The Minister said SBM has witnessed a "phenomenal increase" in rural sanitation from 39 per cent to 92 per cent in the last four years.

He said initially people in the rural areas were reluctant to accept the scheme and thus required a "behavioural change". The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission has transformed into a movement with women playing a leading role in it.

"We all knew that the dignity of women demanded privacy of toilet," Jaitley said in a blog. He said in several parts of India toilets have been named 'Izzat Ghar'.

He said the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was "arguably the most successful" of government schemes.

Referring to the target of making India free from open defecation by 2019 -- the 150th year of Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary -- the Finance Minister pointed to the preventive health care benefits of the scheme.

"Global experts believe the SBM will have saved over three lakh lives in the country by the time we become 'open-defecation-free' in 2019," he said.

Referring'to government's decision to enhance the compensation paid to the Anganwadi workers and the Asha workers, he said the Anganwadi workers are the mainstay of the National Nutrition Mission.

There are approximately 12.9 lakh Anganwadi workers and 11.6 lakh Anganwadi helpers. These benefits would be available to these 24.9 lakh Anganwadi workers and their families.

He said the remuneration of Anganwadi workers has been raised from Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,500 per month and that of mini Anganwadi workers from Rs 2,250 has been increased to Rs 3,500.

Remuneration of Anganwadi helpers has been increased from Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,250 per month.

These workers will also get an incentive of Rs 500 per month and Rs 250 per month respectively on the basis of the real-time monitoring of performance, he said.