New Delhi: As part of the celebrations of Gandhi Jayanti, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday addressed ‘Swachh Bharat Diwas’ programme in Ahmedabad and said the whole rural India and its villages have declared themselves ‘open defecation free’.

“Today rural India and its villages have declared themselves ‘open defecation free’,” he said, adding, “The whole world is appreciating and awarding us. Providing toilets to more than 60 crore people in 60 months, building more than 11 crore toilets, the whole world is amazed by this.”

PM Modi said that the sanitation, conservation of environment and animals, all these things were dear to Gandhi ji. “Plastic is a major threat to all of them. So, we have to achieve the goal to eradicate ‘single use plastic’ from the country by the year 2022,” he added.

Saying the Gandhi Jayanti is now a global celebration, PM Modi said,” The whole world is celebrating the birth anniversary of Bapu.

“A few days ago, the United Nations issued a postage stamp to make this special occasion memorable and today postal stamp and coin have also been released here,” he added.

Before addressing the ‘Swachh Bharat Diwas’ PM Modi said he went to Sabarmati Ashram and there he got a new energy as he paid homage to Gandhi there.

“Before coming here I went to Sabarmati Ashram. I have had the opportunity to go there many times in the past. But today I got new energy there as I was paying homage to Gandhiji,” he said.

He said that Sabarmati is witnessing a huge success of Swachhagraha. “It is an occasion of happiness and pride for all of us,” he added.

He thanked people living in rural areas and all who received Swachh Bharat Awards. He thanked them for their contribution in making the country open defecation free.

He said just the way people were inspired by Bapu and participated in the movement for the independence of the country, in the same way, they have given their wholehearted support for the cleanliness campaign.

He said people from all walks of life irrespective of their economic status and all, have immensely contributed towards cleanliness drive in the country.

PM Modi, who soon after coming to power for the first time in 2014, announced the Swachh Bharat Mission, saying Mahatma Gandhi had laid stress on cleanliness and wanted the countrymen to pursue it.

The prime objective of the mission was to provide access to toilet facilities to all rural households in the country. Sanitation coverage in the rural areas of the country, which was 38.7 per cent on October 2, 2014, later increased to more than 98 per cent.