After getting a call from the Prime Minister’s Office, ministers, lawmakers and officials are queuing up with promises before the house of Khusbhu, the 17-year-old girl who committed suicide shamed by the lack of toilet, and exposed graft in welfare schemes.
Sources in the government said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken umbrage at the incident and had instructed Raghubar Das government to probe the matter and control further damage.
The teenager’s death is blowing crosswinds into Modi’s Swachh Bharat or Clean India Campaign aimed at promoting hygiene and sanitation. Immediately after coming to power, he had vowed to end open defecation in the country by 2019.
On Monday, BJP MP from Godda, Nishikant Dubey visited Khushbu’s house, while many, including Public Health Engineering Department, (PHED) minister Chandra Prakash Choudhary, and top rank officers are in the queue.
“The PHED minister would visit Khushbu’s house on July 9. He would also review implementation of the sanitation programme in the district,” said state's welfare minister and local legislator Louis Marandi, who visited the girl's home on Monday, two days after the incident.
Nishikant Dubey told reporters after visiting Khusboo's house that the PMO was concerned.
No open defecation at 100 villages by Oct 2
"I got a call from the PMO yesterday. They are very serious about it. I have spoken to PHED department secretary AP Singh and have appealed him to conduct a thorough inquiry,” said Dubey.
Dubey sniped at the sanitation programme being run by the state government.
“Where is the toilet if the district administration claims to have built one at Khushbu’s house in 2008-09,” he asked.
While the state government has ordered an inquiry to probe the claim of the local administration that the family was provided toilet way back in 2008 when, in fact, the house was constructed only in 2010.
Louis Marandi had tried to placate the family with offers such as a “state-of-the-art toilet”. However, Khusboo’s mother declined the offer made by the Louis Marandi, saying she didn’t need any favour as her daughter was no more.
Marandi has held her predecessor from the area, Hemant Soren, who was also the then chief minister, for not spending Rs 50 lakh from his MLA fund in his constituency.
“Hemant did not bother providing toilets to the needy,” Louis alleged.
JMM general secretary Vijay Singh rejected the allegation. He said that in 2008 when the government claimed to have provided toilet at Khushbu’s house on paper, Hemant was not even an MLA.
"The BJP is misleading people to cover up its own failure," he said.
Dumka deputy commissioner, Rahul Kumar Sinha said 10,852 toilets would be made in the district under the drinking water and sanitation programme.
“Each toilet would be made with a cost of Rs 12,000. The scheme would be completed by the end of 2019. The Swach Bharat Mission schemes would be run in the district strictly,” the deputy commissioner said.