Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh has raised questions over the way villages were conferred with Nirmal Gram awards without really deserving it.
"Many a village got conferred with Nirmal Gram award even though a large number of them do not fulfil the criteria. Open defecation still continues in these villages. A village should not be awarded till it stops open defecation completely," said Ramesh. He was talking to media persons after addressing a function organised under the aegis of Nirmal Bharat Yatra.
Even Madhya Pradesh has nearly 2100 village panchayats, which have been declared as Nirmal Gram. "I don't have the exact figure but there are lot many of them," he said and reasoned out that Rs. 4,500 given for construction of toilets was not enough. "Now, the same has been raised to Rs. 9,900," he added.
Reiterating government's resolve to stop open defecation, he said Sikkim became the country's first open defecation free state and hoped that during 2012-13 Himachal Pradesh would become the second such state along with Kerala.
Admitting having received complaints from several quarters over irregularities in the implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act ( MNREGA) in some states, Ramesh said that from now on physical verification of MNREGA records was being carried out in the wake of complaints of fake job cards being issued to rural job seekers.
“In a bid to step up vigilance of the rural job scheme, chartered accountants will also go through MNREGA records and physical verification will be carried out,” he said. “Even there are complaints from Madhya Pradesh and I am glad that the state government has submitted action taken report (ATR) in 54 cases,” he added.