By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, May 24, 2018: Odisha has set a target to become an open defecation-free state by December 2018, Parameswaran Iyer, who is currently leading the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) for the Government of India on Thursday said.

Iyer, who held discussions with senior officials of Odisha made it clear that that adequate assistance will be provided to the State for achieving its target. He also had a courtesy meeting with Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,

“Today, we had a good discussion with the officials of Odisha government and we hope that the State will be declared open defecation-free state by end of this year,” said Iyer.

Odisha has made visible progress in construction of household toilets in rural area under SBM and at present, the household coverage of toilets has crossed 55% from a mere 10% in the October, 2014.

Odisha Chief Secretary, Aditya Prasad Padhi on the other hand informed that the State’s toilet coverage was at a mere 10 percent when the Swachh Bharat Mission was launched in October 2014 with two districts- Deogarh and Jharsuguda already been declared open defecation-free districts.

“We are going to declare four more districts open defecation-free shortly and have given a specific deadline to all district collectors in this regard,” Padhi told media persons after chairing over a high level official review meeting, which Iyer also attended.

Iyer applauded the focus of the districts in behavioral change of the people in SBM campaign. “Odisha has gathered momentum in the mission campaign and it is right time to push it ahead with more speed”, Iyer said.

Padhi directed the Collectors to take personal lead in the Mission involving people from district water and sanitation mission, members from Panchayat bodies, SHGs, anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and voluntary organizations.

Four more districts – Balasore, Gajapati, Sambalpur and Subarnapur” will become open defecation-free districts by the end of the year. The present average coverage in these districts is around 74%, Padhi remarked.

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