Kerala has been bestowed with ’Open Defecation Free (ODF) Plus’ status by the Centre for making all the villages to meet the parameters prescribed by the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Kerala gained the coveted status as all the villages in the state have been equipped with modern facilities for sanitation and waste disposal as per the parameters set by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India.
The criteria for declaring a village as ODF Plus include its sustained ODF status along with implementing either solid or liquid waste management systems.
The focussed efforts by all villages and grama panchayats in meeting the yardsticks in this regard helped Kerala attain the status, which reflects on the policy initiatives and their meticulous implementation by the government.
Grama panchayats have implemented projects for source level management of biodegradable waste, collection of biodegradable waste by Haritha Karma Sena, construction of community toilets and household toilets, installation of public disposal facilities for biodegradable waste, liquid waste disposal facilities and various informative campaigns.
Currently, among 1,509 villages in the state, 491 of them got ODF Plus status in ‘Aspiring’ category, 48 in ‘Rising’ and 970 in ‘Model’ category. In percentage wise, Kerala has the highest number of Model villages in the country.
Kerala is targeting to achieve 100% ODF Model status by December 2023 and is expected to become the first state in the country to achieve the status.
As part of achieving the target, along with keeping villages ODF, activities like creating well-maintained toilets in schools, anganwadis, grama panchayat headquarters and public washrooms have been taken up. This was done by ensuring that water stagnation and garbage pile up in public spaces are avoided, community compost facility created, collection and management facilities for non biodegradable waste are identified. The Haritha Karma Sena was also leveraged for creating public awareness about the programme.
Apart from Kerala, southern states Karnataka and Telangana have also got ODF Plus status.