NEW DELHI (INDIA): All 4480 villages on the bank of River Ganga in 52 districts and 5 states (Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand & West Bengal) were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) under Namami Gange initiative at the Ganga Gram Sammelan held today at Naini, Allahabad by Narendra Singh Tomar, Union Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation.nnLater, Uma Bharati, Union Minister for Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation and Shri Narendra Singh Tomar launched model Ganga Gram initiative under which 24 Namami Gange villages have been identified in the 1st phase (Uttarakhand ? 3, Uttar Pradesh ? 10, Bihar ? 4, Jharkhand ? 5, and West Bengal ? 2) to make them Adarsh Ganga Grams. Ganga Gram is a joint initiative of MDWS and MoWR. The Gram Pradhans of these villages were administered oath for achieving the goal of Adarsh Ganga Gram by Sushri Uma Bharati.nnThe Ganga Gram initiative would focus on better cleanliness and infrastructure facilities like Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM), rejuvenation of ponds and water sources, water conservation projects, organic farming, crematorium and overall convergence with other government departments and projects.nnSpeaking on the occasion, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath reiterated the commitment to make the entire Uttar Pradesh state ODF by December 2018 and stressed that SBM is among the top priority programs in the state.nnIn her address, Sushri Uma Bharti said that a major step has been taken in the direction of cleaning the holy river Ganga by putting the required framework in place.nnShri Tomar highlighted the progress made under Swachh Bharat Mission. He said that the country has made fast and remarkable progress with sanitation coverage increasing to around 66.5% with 2.25 lakh villages and 169 districts becoming ODF. He said that the country is well placed to achieve the target of becoming ODF by 2nd October 2019.nnAt the end of the programme, 30 Swachhta Raths were flagged off jointly by Yogi, Uma Bharti andTomar. The Raths are mobile vans equipped with LED panels for screening Swachhta Films and also a Nukkad Natak Team for community engagement in villages.nnThe Raths would tour the entire state and create mass awareness and would help in triggering behaviour change among the community members. In this week about 300 Raths in may states will tour thousands of villages to disseminate message of swachhta.nnEarlier, speaking in the programme, Secretary, DWS, Shri Parameswaran Iyer elaborated the concepts of Ganga Gram and Swachhta Rath. He also presented the national scenario and status of SBM-G and highlighted the role of Jan Andolan for increasing the momentum of SBM.nnThe Sammelan was also attended by the Deputy CM of UP, Keshav Prasad Maurya, State Minister- Panchayati Raj, senior officials from MDWS, MoWR, state officials, Gram Pradhans of Ganga Gram Villages and more than 1500 village representatives and swachhagrahi.