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Families in Rajasthan’s Barmer siphon funds meant for toilets under Swachh Bharat

jaipur Updated: Dec 17, 2017 21:14 IST
​ Mukesh Mathrani
​ Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times
Rajasthan news,Swachh Bharat Mission,Barmer municipal council

The Barmer civic body sanctioned ₹8,000 in two instalments to motivate the beneficiaries to construct toilets. (Representative picture)

The civic authorities in Barmer have stumbled upon a “mini scam” of sorts where a number of beneficiaries allegedly have siphoned off the money they were granted for constructing toilets at their houses. This comes when just two weeks are left for the December 31 deadline for making Barmer city ‘open defecation free’ (ODF).

It all began more than a year ago when Barmer municipal council authorities identified 1,904 people, who did not have toilets at their home. The civic authorities asked them to apply for grants under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or the Clean India Mission, a flagship scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2, 2014, with the aim to make India free of open defecation by October 2, 2019.

Under the scheme, the civic body sanctions Rs 8,000 — in two installments of Rs 4,000 — to motivate beneficiaries to construct toilets at their houses.

Official data available shows that of the total 1,904 people who had no toilets at their houses, the first installment of Rs 4,000 was released to 1,504. The fund could not be released for the remaining 400 as civic authorities could not verify their applications, officials said.

Later, the beneficiaries were asked to apply for the second installment after submitting the utilisation details of the first installment. Only 806 of the 1,504 beneficiaries approached the civic authorities, officials said.

On scrutiny, the authorities found that the remaining 698 beneficiaries have not constructed toilets at their houses having allegedly siphoned off the amount released to them as the first installment.

Executive engineer at municipal council Deepak Gupta said they have issued notices to the defaulters asking them to start constructing the toilets at the earliest.

“We have issued three notices the 698 beneficiaries who received the first installment but they are yet to respond,” he said. “The civic authorities have now decided to lodge FIRs against such defaulters as they have misused government money.”

A final notice will be issued before initiating legal proceedings, Gupta said.

It is still a long way to go before Rajasthan could be declared open defecation free. HT had earlier reported that as on the third anniversary of the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Only 6% of Rajasthan’s cities had been declared ODF, while in the rural areas only 67% of the gram panchayats could secure the tag. In terms of toilets in rural households, the state stands at 10th position in India.

In last three years, 11 cities were declared ODF, while in rural areas, 6,597 gram panchayat and 27,720 villages self declared ODF.

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 20:50 IST