Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 21: Kerala is gearing up to be declared as the first 'open defecation-free', among the most populous states in the country with the completion of 1.90 lakh toilets in its 941 village panchayats by this November.
The toilets are being constructed across the state, including in individual houses, located at critically challenged and hilly terrains, as part of the sanitation programme by the state government.
Suchitwa Mission, the state nodal agency for sanitation, is implementing the plan which has a total outlay of Rs 308 crore.
K Vasuki, Executive Director, Suchitwa Mission, said it was a tough and challenging task to implement the open defecation-free (ODF) programme in a state like Kerala, which is one of the most populous ones in the country having different geographical terrain ranging from hillocks to coastal regions.
"Though it was a challenging task, we are committed and confident that the state would achieve the new milestone by this November," Vasuki told PTI.
"Our target is to construct nearly 1.90 lakh (toilets) across the 941 gram panchayats in the state. Of this, construction of 35 per cent of toilets has already been completed and work of nearly 70,000 is progressing," she said.
"Nearly 50 gram panchayats have already self-declared as 'OFD civic bodies'," she said. Stating that the mission was getting full support from the CPIM-led LDF government in the state, she said the government took strong decision to complete various initiatives under the programme on a war-footing.
"Orders were issued that there should not be any financial restrictions for the project," she said, adding, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was monitoring the scheme's progress every week.
The OFD programme in the state got a boost after Vijayan met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, immediately after assuming office in May last. "First the state government will declare Kerala as open defecation-free on November 1.
Later, a central team will visit the state and endorse the declaration after making mandatory inspections in this regard," she said.