The city of Visakhapatnam was declared open defecation-free, marking the second anniversary of Swachh Bharat Mission and Gandhi Jayanti, on Sunday. Making the declaration at a function at the YVS Murhty Auditorium, District Collector and Special Officer Pravin Kumar said that the resolution making it ODF would be sent to Swachhandhra Corporation for publication in the gazette. Any complaints, objections and suggestions on the declaration should be made by October 15. ODF committees and flying squads may call the toll-free number of GVMC to make suggestions.

Stating that the GVMC had topped the corporations and municipalities by constructing more than 12,000 individual household toilets (IHT), Mr. Pravin Kumar congratulated the Engineering officials and zone commissioners. In addition, 276 public toilets, 66 community toilets and seven in public private participation had also been constructed. Credit also should go to citizens, people’s representatives, NGOs, slum-level federations, SBM ambassadors, officials and staff.

The District Collector said that, over the last two years, amenities had been improved in 600 slums and another 250 needed to be taken up in the city. V. Ramakrishnababu, MLA, said the awards for the city, for tourism and toilet construction were due to the efforts of Mr. Pravin Kumar and Commissioner M. Hari Narayanan. Recognising the contribution at various levels right from sanitation worker was a good gesture.

Over 300 persons were given away merit certificates for taking up cleanliness-related work and carrying it out. Swachh Bharat ambassador and former Vice-Chancellor of Acharya Nagarjuna University V. Balamohan Das suggested imposing fines for open defecation and incentives for making use of toilets and contributing to ODF objectives. Additional Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer (Health) in charge G.V.V.S. Murthy, ADCs N. Mohana Rao and S.S. Varma, Swachh Bharat ambassadors Shireen Rehaman, V.V. Ramana Murthy, Uday Shirname, S. Vijay Kumar and P.L.K. Murthy participated. Earlier, Mr. Pravin Kumar flagged off an SBM rally from Maddilapalem.

Efforts are under way to make Visakhapatnam Swachh district by December 2017, said Mr. Pravin Kumar. As part of the initiative, 61 gram panchayats in the distarict were declared open defecation-free (ODF) on Sunday.