(REOPENS DEL-76)

\ Addressing the gathering, the chief minister said though\Sikkim was the first state to achieve the distinction of\becoming ODF, but it was in the small states category.\ \\"We are lucky enough to become second state leaving\Kerela behind which was also in the race and I suppose that\Kerla would also be declared ODF after four days on \\’Kerala\Day\\’ on November 1\\", he added.\ \\"I insisted the Union Rural Development Minister to be\with us despite his busy schedule, as I always wanted that our\state should be the first amongst the Big states to be ODF\\",\Chief Minister said, adding it was also a matter of pride that\\\"we accomplished the feat six months before the targeted date\of March 31, 2017.\\"\ Virbhadra Singh said that it was Mahatma Gandhi who\strongly emphasised on cleanliness always and said\\\’Cleanliness was next to Godliness and Independence\\’ and for\him the parameter for cleanliness was the condition of\toilets.\ The Chief Minister also said Himachal was fully\co-operating with the Centre in implementing the centrally\aided development programmes and policies.\ Union Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar\also lauded the efforts of the state government.\ \\"I hope that Himachal will take lead in disposal of Solid\and Liquid waste management soon\\", he said and congratulated\the Chief Minister for making Himachal the most progressive\state and for community led total sanitation drive adopting\bio-digester techniques.\ Secretary, Rural Development, Himachal Pradesh Onkar\Sharma in his address revealed that all 12 districts, 78\development blocks, 3226 Panchayats and 18,465 villages have\been declared ODF.\ He said that more focus was given to Information,\Education and Communication programmes by the department from\September 28 to October 20 to achieve the target of total\sanitation and astonishing results were witnessed.\ Divisional Commissioners, all the deputy Commissioner and\Block Development Officers, field revenue officers and\officials were honoured with a citation and a memento for\their intensive initiatives for undertaking sanitation drives\in their work areas.\ Panchayati Raj Training Institute, Thunag in Seraj\assembly constituency was also inaugurated at the event\through online applications. PTI PCL\RCJ\

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