President Ram Nath Kovind today paid rich tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his birthplace Kirti Mandir in Gujarat's Porbandar, and stressed that cleanliness was a "multi-stakeholder" national movement.
On the occasion of the 148th birth anniversary of the Mahatma, the president declared rural Gujarat open defecation free (ODF) and said "this is the true homage to Gandhiji".
He also launched a solid waste management and rural comprehensive cleanliness programme for 3,300 gram panchayats in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi where elections are due later this year.
Addressing a function at Kirti Mandir, the president said that by becoming open defecation free, Gujarat has paid a "true homage to Gandhiji".
He congratulated Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani for achieving the feat, a government release said.
Rupani and state Governor O P Kohli accompanied the president to Porbandar.
On the occasion, Kovind unveiled a certificate declaring 14,060 gram panchayats across 347 blocks in 33 districts in Gujarat open defecation free.
"Cleanliness is a multi-stakeholder national movement and not just the responsibility of the sanitation personnel and government departments," the president said.
He said achieving the goals of Swachh Bharat Mission by October 2, 2019, will be an appropriate tribute to the Father of the Nation.
Gujarat Rural Development Commissioner Mona Khandhar said the state qualified all the parameters and completed a three-tier verification process required for achieving the ODF status for rural Gujarat.
"President Kovind unveiled a certificate declaring rural Gujarat ODF. This includes 14,060 gram panchayat across 347 blocks in 33 districts in the state. The president also launched solid waste management and rural comprehensive cleanliness programme for 3,300 gram panchayats," she said.
As many as 32,43,000 toilets have been constructed as part of the ODF programme in rural Gujarat, she said.
Kovind later visited coastal town Mangrol in Junagadh district where he laid the foundation of the Phase-III of Mangro fishing harbour and inaugurated a rural water supply scheme for 45 villages.
Addressing a gathering, Kovind said the state government's programmes would expand the capacity of fishing harbours as well as the landing centres by 300 per cent to accommodate 1,400 boats, which will improve the lives of people.
Earlier in the day, BJP president Amit Shah visited Kirti Mandir before flagging off "Gujarat Gaurav Yatra" from the town.
"The message that Gandhiji has given from his life and thoughts is probably more relevant today than it was during his time. Even today Gandhiji's thoughts have the power to solve the problems facing the country and the world," Shah told reporters.
At Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, the Mahatma's residence for 12 years from where he led the Dandi Yatra in 1930, people paid tribute by organising an all-faith prayer meeting. Hundreds of people from the city and elsewhere thronged the ashram to mark the occasion.