Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh Monday said that he wanted to make India a nation free of open defecation in a decade's time.
"At present, Sikkim is the only state in the country which is declared open defecation-free. In Kerala, of the 978 gram panchayats, all but 19 are now open defecation-free. The state government has assured that by Nov 1, Kerala would be the first major state to have this status," said Ramesh to reporters after presiding over a meeting of sanitation officials here.
He added that he has prepared a road map for the country and in the next two to three years, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh would achieve this status.
"In five years, Maharashtra would achieve it and then starts the real problem with regards to other states. My target is that in 10 years, India will and should achieve this status," added Ramesh.
He also pointed out that currently, of the 2.40 lakh gram panchayats, just 28,000 have achieved this status.
"Sixty percent of all open defecation in the world takes place in India and 60 to 70 per cent of the women defecate in the country in the open. We are behind our neighbouring countries in this and we should change this," said Ramesh.