New Delhi: A total of 180 cities and towns in Gujarat, including Mahatma Gandhi's home district Porbandar, and 110 cities and towns in Andhra Pradesh were on Gandhi Jayanti on Sunday declared free from open defecation.
Union Minister of Drinking Water and Sanitation Naredra Singh Tomar and Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani made the announcement at Porbandar, while Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu made the declaration during the Gandhi Jayanti programme in Tirupati.
Addressing the Porbandar programme through a video-link, Minister of Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu said: "Declaration of Porbandar district and other areas as Open Defecation-Free is an interim gift to Mahatma on the occasion of his birth anniversary today. The final gift of Swachh Bharat would be presented to Gandhiji on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary on October 2, 2019."
During the Gandhi birth anniversary celebration at Tirupati, Chandrababu Naidu urged the people to become "Swachhagrahis" to make the country free from poor hygiene in the spirit of ‘Satyagrahis' who won political freedom for the country under the leadership of the Mahatma.
He said that an amount of Rs 186 crore has been sanctioned for Andhra Pradesh for schemes of solid waste management in urban areas.
Naidu released a book "In the Footsteps of Mahatma: Gandhi and Sanitation" authored by Sudarshan Iyangar, a veteran Gandhian.
The Chief Minister also released a postal stamp on 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan'.
So far, 405 cities and towns are said to have become free from open defecation along with 20,000 of the 82,000 urban wards in the country. Another 334 cities and towns are slated to end the open defecation practice by March, 2017.
Maharashtra, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and other northeastern states are on course to declare all urban areas as 'Open Defecation-Free' soon.