The State's efforts in total sanitation should be emulated by the rest of the country, Union Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha Sangma has said.

She was speaking after inaugurating the six-day ‘Green Kerala Clean Kerala' programme of the Aryad grama panchayat here on Saturday.

Kerala is the top-performing State in the nationwide Total Sanitation Campaign taken up by the Union Rural Development Ministry. The active involvement of the public and the panchayats and the State's high literacy levels were to be lauded for this, Ms. Sangma said.

The low literacy levels in several States were hampering the progress of the campaign. Kerala was setting an example and would achieve the distinction of being a ‘Nirmal State' in a year or two, she added.

Finance and Public Works Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac, delivering the presidential address, said a new generation of panchayats, which would be more receptive to dynamic and effective administrative practices, would be ‘visible' in the State once the local body polls were over in October. The new panchayat representatives would be imparted training with the aim of

giving decentralisation a new direction in the State, he said.

Though the State had achieved total sanitation, there was a lot to be attended to, including issues like vector control and water stagnation, Dr. Isaac said.

Panchayats should take up projects under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and look at ways to tackle these issues, he said, adding that the plastic waste recycling plant to be set up in the Aryad panchayat, as part of the ‘Green Kerala Clean Kerala' programme, would be able to handle plastic waste from the Alappuzha town as well.

Thomas Chandy, MLA; James Sangma, MLA (Meghalaya); Municipal chairman P.P. Chitharanjan; District panchayat president R. Nazar and others were present.

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