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Rural Kerala is all set to be declared as ‘Open Defecation Free’ next month, with the construction of 90 per cent of its total target of 1,75,084 toilets despite land constraints, logistic challenges and high density of population. CPI(M)-led LDF government has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare the state as ‘Open Defecation Free’ (ODF) at a function, to be held in Thiruvananthapuram on November 1.
‘Suchitwa Mission’, the state nodal agency for sanitation, has met 90 per cent of its total target of constructing 1,75,084 toilets despite constraints.
Mission Executive Director K Vasuki said construction of 1,54,764 lakh toilets in 843 village panchayats has been completed under the ODF initiative and remaining work is progressing fast.
The core objective of the initiative is to help people have more access to toilets and better sanitation than constructing the facility in large numbers, she said.
“We have completed 90 per cent work of our total target of 1,75,084 toilets in 941 village panchayats. Six districts– Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Thrissur, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, have already been declared as ODF,” Vasuki told PTI in an interview.
According to her, the Mission’s aim is to declare the rural sector of Kerala ODF in the present phase and the urban region by next year, work for which has already commenced.
“Different geographical terrain, high density of population and the attitude of people are the most challenging barriers before us to accomplish the task.But, we can overcome the difficulties to a great extent with comprehensive action plan and region-specific construction methods,” she said.
Under the initiative, toilets have been constructed in remote tribal hamlets located in hilly terrains to water-logged regions, coastal hamlets and densely populated areas.
“Our team had to trek a whole day to reach Edamalakkudy, a emote high range tribal village, for identifying beneficiaries and location and for construction work.”
“The work in Attappady, another tribal hamlet, also posed challenges because of the remoteness of the place. We had to adopt alternative designs like pre-fabric septic tanks in high water table areas,” Vasuki said, elaborating the challenges faced by the Mission.