Bengaluru: Kerala is now “Open Defecation Free" (ODF), chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan declared on Tuesday. In a video posted on Facebook, Vijayan said the state government had constructed about 175,000 toilets in the last four months to make Kerala the first among the big states to claim ODF status.

So far, two other states—Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh—have been able to officially declare themselves free from open defecation.

The day marked the 60th anniversary of the state. On the occasion, the state also launched four major programmes—Parippida Mission, Haritha Keralam, Ardram and Life—in the education, health, housing and sanitation sectors.

Under “Parppida Mission", the government plans to ensure housing for all, while “Ardram" proposes to upgrade basic facilities in government hospitals without inflating rates.

At least 1,000 schools are supposed to be elevated to international standards under “Life", a scheme that will focus on improving liveability conditions.

“Haritha Keralam", which means “Green Kerala", aims to look at effective methods of waste disposal, popularizing organic vegetable farming and conservation of forest and water resources. All schemes have a five-year deadline.

Also Read: Urban areas of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh free of open defecation: Govt

Vijayan said in a statement that Kerala will be completely electrified by March 2017. He also said that work on Kannur airport, the state’s fourth international airport, will be completed by April 2017.

ODF was an uphill task, Vijayan said in his Facebook post. He thanked Suchitwa Mission, an arm of the government which looks after sanitation and pioneered the task, local bodies and people’s representatives for rising to the occasion.

According to the government, about 800,000 people benefitted from its scheme to free Kerala of open defecation, including those in tribal hamlets in inaccessible hilly areas like Edamalakkudy in Idukki district. The Edamalakkudy initiative, where everyone from local politicians to college students pitched in their support to construct toilets, was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ‘Maan Ki Baat’ talk-show on All India Radio on Sunday.

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