Bhubaneswar: Even as three years have elapsed since its inception, the Swachh Bharat Mission has reportedly failed to achieve its desired goal in Odisha as around 50 lakh families are still defecating in open and lack toilets.
In some cases, toilets which have already been built under the mission are not even in a proper condition for use on account of substandard work.
It is alleged that people are being harassed by contractors who are not allowing the beneficiaries to undertake construction on their own and are not paying any heed to their complaints on quality of construction.
"The contractors are forcefully constructing even as norms stipulate that we should construct our own toilet. Even they pay little heed to our complaints," alleged Surendra Muna, a resident of Chandrapur village in Bolangir.
Around 90 families out of total 120 in Chandrapur village have got the toilets sanctioned under the government scheme. However, most of them are now damaged due substandard quality of work and are not in a state fit for use, the villager added.
Similarly, the ground reality in Baunsalundi village of Bhanjanagar in Ganjam is also quite concerning. There are 50 families in the village, but none of them have access to clean toilet. "We have requested the officials for a latrine, but our request fell on deaf ears," said Sumati Naik, a local resident.
Recently, the Union Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation had informed the Rajya Sabha that 49,60, 000 families in Odisha are yet to get toilets while States like Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Kerala have achieved 100 per cent target under Swachh Bharat Mission.
Odisha government claims that lack of funds has created hurdles in proper implementation of the scheme. "The Centre has sanctioned Rs 84 crore only against the required amount of Rs 300 crore. So, it is quite obvious that problems will arise in implementation. Still, we are trying to construct more toilets under the mission," Panchayati Raj Minister Pradip Maharathy said.
However, the Odisha unit of BJP rubbished the allegations and said that the State government has failed to utilise the sanctioned funds. "The State government has failed to inform about the shortage of funds. Moreover, it lacks proper data on number of toilets constructed in the State. The government is making false allegations to cover up its failures," Odisha BJP general secretary Prithviraj Harichandan said.