The State of Kerala today became the third State overall and the largest State so far to be declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) (Gramin). The declaration was formally made by the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, in a magnificent ceremony at the Central Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram on November 1, 2016. Vijayan also distributed awards to and felicitated district collectors and other government officials who had been instrumental in bringing about this landmark achievement for the State.
With this, all 14 districts, 152 blocks, 940 Gram Panchayats and 2117 villages of the State have been declared free from open defecation. Freedom from open defecation has been proven to lead to significant health benefits in terms of incidences of water-borne diseases, especially in children, and provide safety and dignity for all, especially women and senior citizens. Kerala, with a rural population of approximately 3.5 crores, is also the largest State so far to have achieved the ODF Status, after Sikkim (~6 lakhs) and Himachal Pradesh (~70 lakhs).
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister, Pinaray Vijayan, emphasized the importance of behaviour change communication in the efforts made by the State to achieve ODF status. He also underscored the need to sustain this status now that it has been achieved through a continued focus on sanitation.
Dr KT Jaleel, State Minister for Local Self Government, Welfare of Minorities, WAKF and Haj Pilgrimage, in his Presidential address, spoke about the importance of effective solid and liquid waste management to truly create a Swachh Bharat and Kerala.
In his welcome address on the occasion, the Chief Secretary, SM Vijayanand emphasized the role of local governance in sustaining the ODF Status of the State and to focus on solid and liquid waste management in the next phase of efforts.
The Secretary, Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer, in his address, lauded the State government’s focused efforts on sanitation and congratulated the State on this landmark achievement. He assured that the Centre will continue supporting the State’s efforts towards creating a Swachh Bharat and Swachh Kerala in the next phase as well, as they continue their efforts to sustain ODF and focus on solid and liquid waste management.
The State Leader of Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala, Minister for Revenue, E Chandrasekharan, Minister for Water Resources, Mathew T Thomas, Member of Parliament, Shashi Tharoor, and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.