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New Delhi Correspondent
India on Monday marked the World Toilet Day with an official estimate saying the number of people practicing open defecation in villages across the country has gone down from 550 million in 2014 to less than 100 million now through progress made under the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission.
World Toilet Day is an official United Nations international observance day on November 19 to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.
Since the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the rural sanitation coverage in India has increased significantly–rom 39% in October 2014 to over 96% today, said the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation in a statement.
It said over 8.8 crore household toilets have been built by rural Indians and as a result, 25 states/federally-administered territories, 530 districts, and over 5.2 lakh villages have declared themselves free from open defecation.
In a message on the occasion of World Toilet Day, Modi reiterated his government’s commitment towards enhancing cleanliness and sanitation facilities across the nation.” We in India take pride at the remarkable speed with which sanitation cover has increased in the last four years,” he said.

On the occasion, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked the people to eradicate the menace of open defecation. She said 11 districts of the state have become open defecation free (ODF).

“On #WorldToiletDay today, let us pledge to eradicate the menace of open defecation. Our states flagship programme, #MissionNirmalBangla, has been very successful,” Mamata wrote on her Twitter handle on Monday morning.

She said “As of May, 2018, 11 districts, 33,261 villages, 2,621 gram panchayats and 255 blocks in the state have become #ODF.”

The Mission Nirmal Bangla was initiated by West Bengal government endeavours to achieve the larger objective of reduction in child mortality and morbidity, overall mortality and morbidity by reducing chances of water-borne and fecal- borne diseases due to prevalence of open defecation.

West Bengal Minister of Public Health Engineering Subrata Mukherjee had said four days ago that the state currently has a rural sanitation coverage of 97% and is on track to becoming open defecation-free much before the national target of October 2019.

The rural part of West Bengal is expected to be totally free from open defecation by December this year, an official said. Ends