Removal of 18,000 sanitation staff from Rajasthan gram panchayats criticised

People’s representatives have criticised removal of around 18,000 sanitation workers from gram panchayats in Rajasthan, saying the move will affect cleanliness drives in rural areas.

jaipur Updated: Mar 11, 2018 21:08 IST
Aabshar H Quazi
Aabshar H Quazi
Hindustan Times
The Rajasthan government had deployed two sanitation workers at each gram panchayat, and they were paid wages from the funds received under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.(HT File Photo)

People’s representatives have criticised removal of around 18,000 sanitation workers from gram panchayats in Rajasthan, saying the move will affect cleanliness drives in rural areas.

The state government had deployed two sanitation workers at each gram panchayat, and they were paid wages from the funds received under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS). In 2016, chief minister Vasundhara Raje announced Mukhyamantri Swachh Gram Yojna (MSGY) to ensure cleanliness in villages with NREGS fund support.

Sanitation workers were removed from panchayats after the Centre asked the state government last month to stop using job scheme funds for village cleanliness.

Withdrawal of sanitation workers from gram panchayats is a “big jolt” to the Prime Minister’s dream project Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), said Bhawani Singh Rajawat, BJP MLA from Ladpura in Kota district.

“I have raised the issue in the state assembly. Municipal bodies have sanitation resources and staff in urban areas. The decision to deploy sanitation workers at gram panchayats was good; their removal is not justified,” Rajawat said. “Rural areas either do not have drains, or if they have drains, there is no dedicated staff for sanitation.”

Kota District Sarpanch Association president said, “The state government should reinstate sanitation workers at gram panchayat level to ensure cleanliness in rural areas.”

Responding to Rajawat’s question in the assembly on removal of sanitation workers, state panchayat raj minister Rajendra Singh Rathore had said, “The government had kept two sanitation staff for every 150 houses at a gram panchayat. Around 18,000 sanitation workers were removed after the union government’s objection (to wage payment from NREGS funds.”

Rathore said the chief minister and the panchayat raj ministry would soon write to the Centre seeking permission to reappoint sanitation workers in rural areas.

On February 20, the SBM director in the state asked district authorities to stop providing manpower to the CM’s cleanliness scheme through NREGS funds. The CM’s scheme aimed at making villages clean and creating awareness about cleanliness among rural people, besides encouraging them to recycle biodegradable waste.

First Published: Mar 11, 2018 21:08 IST