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Jharkhand man uses Swachh Bharat money to buy phone, wife raises a stink, then he builds a toilet

Dhanbad resident Rajesh Mahato had to give up to the pressure from his wife and began the construction of toilet in the house by taking a loan from a moneylender.

ranchi Updated: Aug 10, 2017 22:33 IST
Subhash Mishra
Subhash Mishra
Hindustan Times, Dhanbad
Swachh Bharat,Jharkhand,Swachh Bharat money
Rajesh Mahto shows his uncompleted toilet under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.(Chandan Paul/HT Photo)

Jharkhand’s Rajesh Mahato never thought buying a smartphone will earn his wife’s wrath.

Lakshmi Devi was furious after she got to know that Mahato, a resident of Bhuli Township in Dhanbad district, spent the money he received to build a toilet in their house as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan or Clean India Mission to buy the phone.

Devi not only destroyed the phone but also sat on a hunger strike for two days demanding that he build a toilet.

“I should not have purchased the mobile [phone] from the toilet fund as it triggered a Mahabharat (the Hindu epic that tells about a family feud between the Kauravas and Pandavas) in my house. I now realise how humiliating it is for a woman to go out to defecate,” Mahato, a farmer, said.

“It took me two days to realise my guilt,” he added as he stressed on the adage better late than never.

Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, selected beneficiaries are paid Rs 12,000 in two instalments. The first instalment of Rs 6000 is given immediately after a person is cleared as beneficiary and the rest is paid on completion of the construction.

Mahato had to give up to the pressure from his wife and began the construction of toilet in the house by taking a loan from a moneylender.

Mahto said he got the first instalment in June for constructing a toilet in his house under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan from the Dhanbad municipal corporation (DMC). But instead of spending the money on the construction of the toilet, he bought a smartphone.

When Devi asked him on August 5 about the inordinate delay in toilet construction even though the family got the fund from DMC more than a month ago, he produced the smart phone seeking her excuse for his “mistake”.

However, Devi was not in a mood to overlook his blunder. She lost her cool and in a fit of rage snatched his phone from his hand and threw it on the ground saying that no one will use a phone in their house until the toilet is constructed.

And, she did not stop there.

Devi sat on a hunger strike after a heated argument. She told him it is humiliating for her to go out to defecate when all their neighbours have toilets in their homes, which they recently built after getting grants from the DMC.

Mahato initially tried to resist and ignore his wife threats but gave in after two days on August 7 when he voluntarily went to a money lender, took a loan and hired masons to build the toilet.

Interestingly, the Mahatos own everything of daily use in their house except a toilet and went in the open to defecate.

Mahato applied for the fund with the municipal corporation only after Devi, who had seen Swachh Bharat Abhiyan campaigns on television, kept mounting pressure on him to build a toilet.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has prioritised sanitation since he swept to power in 2014 and under his pet initiative Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, he aims to provide toilets for all and end open defecation in the country by 2019.

First Published: Aug 10, 2017 19:06 IST