GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat Government today said as many as 6,000 villages in the state have become Open Defecation Free (ODF).
State Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Jayanti Kavadia claimed at a function here, all 18,000 villages in the state would become ODF much before 2019, a target set by Centre government under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
"In the last two years, we have built more than 12.50 lakh toilets across Gujarat. As a result, 6,000 villages are now Open Defecation Free. As of now, 30 talukas in the state now have 100 per cent toilet facility," the minister said.
"Centre government wants each state to achieve 100 per cent target by 2019, the year when the nation will celebrate 125th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. At this pace, I strongly believe that Gujarat would achieve that target much before 2019," asserted Kavadia.
Chief Minister Anandiben Patel criticised the Congress-led government in the state for not doing enough to address the issue while in power between 1960 and 1995.
"Congress was in power for almost 40 years in Gujarat. However, they did not pay any attention to this problem. Our government is providing a financial aid of Rs 12,000 to build one toilet. I am confident that we will achieve 100 per cent target before 2019," she said.
Patel also launched the 'Smart Village' initiative of the state government under which, 300 villages will be selected in the first phase.
Under the scheme, village panchayats need to submit an application along with a vision document having road map of converting their village into a 'smart village'.
"A high level committee would select 300 villages from all the applications. After providing them grants for three years, 'smart village' award will be conferred after detailed evaluation, as the village needs to meet several benchmarks, such as 100 per cent ODF, 100 per cent vaccination, wi-fi facility, zero per cent drop out ratio, door-to-door waste collection, etc," the chief minister said.
At the programme, nearly 3,000 sarpanchs of the 6,000 villages were felicitated.