As of now, Suchitwa Mission officials say that all necessary construction works have been completed, with last-minute finishing touches being done.

At long last, the State capital is ready for ‘Nirmal’ status, by which it will join the list of districts that have been declared free of open defecation, a major challenge to State efforts to combat contagious diseases.

The work to get rid of a practice, which pointed accusing fingers at even the popular concept that the State was much ahead of others when it came to public hygiene, had begun more than a year ago with efforts to ensure latrines for all families and adequate numbers of public latrines. The works in the capital district were focussed on five grama panchayats — Karumkulam, Vakkom, Kilimanoor, Madavoor, and Vettoor. Karumkulam, located in Athiyanoor block of Neyyattinkara taluk, termed the most difficult, mainly because of the geographical conditions in the coastal area.

As of now, Suchitwa Mission officials say that all necessary construction works have been completed, with last-minute finishing touches being done. The awareness campaign that was launched alongside the construction is continuing, and officials say it will continue in future as well.

A senior official told The Hindu that the stage was set for an inspection by a Central team with the State already informing the Centre that it was ready for the pre-declaration inspection. The team was expected towards the first week of February.

Karumkulam, said to be among villages with the highest population density in Asia, with a population of over 60,000, was termed by even Union Minister Jairam Ramesh as a “difficult” and “critical” panchayat in the efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene. The reason was that the panchayat, which lacks proper drainage facilities, has about 1,800 families without their own latrines and was severely short of land as well to construct community sanitary complexes.

Now, after the efforts were intensified in July last, officials say 1,750 domestic latrines were constructed newly while six sanitation complexes were renovated with 68 toilet units that will cater to 500 families. As many as eight community latrine complexes were constructed anew. The community complexes also comprised 100 bio-latrines, being tested at the panchayat-level for the first time in the State and which were inaugurated earlier this week.

The works in the other four panchayats were also over. Part of the nationwide Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, these efforts are expected to help the State achieve the Nirmal status, for which a declaration, provided the Central team is satisfied with the works, is expected by the end of March this year.