Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh became the first states to declare their urban areas as Open Defecation Free (ODF) on the second anniversary of the Swachh Bharat Mission Sunday.
All 110 cities and towns in Andhra Pradesh were given the ODF tag by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu at an event in Tirupati, while Gujarat gave ODF status to each of its 180 cities and towns at a function in Porbandar attended by Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Narendra Singh Tomar and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
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The state also declared the entire district of Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi, as ODF to commemorate the 147th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi this October 2.
In rural India, 37 districts comprising one lakh villages have been declared as ODF as per information released by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
While 334 urban areas are on the way to becoming ODF by March next year, according to the Ministry of Urban Development, 405 cities and towns have declared themselves Open Defecation Free.
Other states that will soon declare all their urban centres as ODF are Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Mizoram and a few other Northeast states.
The mission launched by PM Narendra Modi, with its urban and rural component handled by the respective ministries, aims to make the country ODF by 2019.
“Declaration of Porbandar district and other areas as Open Defecation Free today is an interim gift to Mahatma on the occasion of his birth anniversary today and the final gift of Swachh Bharat would be presented to Gandhiji on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary on October 2, 2019,” said Minister for Urban Development M Venkaiah Naidu, while addressing a gathering at Porbandar through a video-link.
Naidu also released a postal stamp on cleanliness as well as a book In the Footsteps of Mahatma: Gandhi and Sanitation authored by Gandhian, Prof Sudarshan Iyengar, and published by the I&B Ministry.
As part of the second anniversary celebrations for the mission, community-based swachhta events were held at 10 locations termed as iconic places for attaining higher cleanliness standards. They were mostly tourist and religious places and included Taj Mahal, Ajmer Sharif, Vaishno Devi temple, Tirupati temple, Golden Temple, Jagannath temple among others.