Sikkim, one of the eight northeastern states nestled prettily in the eastern Himalayas, ranked first among the 28 states and seven union territories in terms of sanitation coverage for both urban and rural areas in households, schools, sanitary complexes and Aanganwadi centers.

With 610,577 residents (2011 census), Sikkim is India's least populated and second smallest state in area after Goa.

"The state has also sensitized  people to adopt a holistic approach to  improve sanitation  and  hygiene for  a  clean  environment  while  accelerating  overall  development in the state," the Sikkim government said in a statement.

The state has constructed 98,043 household latrines, surpassing the target of 87,014. Of these, 61,493 latrines have been built for below poverty line (BPL) families.

As many as 1,772 schools have been covered under the total sanitation programme. This was done under the central government's Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan sanitation drive.

According to a total evaluation study conducted by the Planning Commission in 2013, Sikkim emerged with the best performing gram panchayats and maintenance of sanitation facilities.

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling launched a community-led total sanitation campaign in 1999 for achieving full sanitation in the 7,096 sq km area of the state.

And, to encourage sanitation activities, the state government has instituted a "Nirmal Gram Puraskar" (Clean village award).

(Agencies)

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