Sharmili Mallick

Khurda: Allegations of large scale irregularities in building toilets under Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) have come to the fore from several areas of Khurda district raising doubts on the Centre & State government’s target to make Odisha open defecation free (ODF) state in the near future.

Most surprisingly, such allegations have come to limelight from Bhatkhuri Gangapada panchayat in Jatni block of the district which has already been designated as ODF village by the local administration.

According to sources, many eligible SBM beneficiaries in the village are yet to get individual household latrine (IHHL) under the scheme. Though surveys have been conducted, the construction of toilets is yet to commence in the households of the beneficiaries.

Others, who have received IHHL have alleged use of substandard materials in the construction, said reports.

A resident of Bhatkhuri, Basant Kumar Paschim Kabat alleged, “As there are no toilets, villagers are defecating in open. The village has been marked ODF by the government only to loot funds in the name of development.”

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“Only two-three households have toilets, others are yet to get it. A survey was conducted and necessary documents were taken from us but we are yet to receive funds for constructing the latrines,” stated another Bhatkhuri villager, Cheena Nayak.

Unofficial data suggests that five years after the launch of the Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014, the scheme has not even reached 30 per cent population of Khurda district.

In 2016, some beneficiaries of Chatabara village in the district had reportedly received work order to construct toilets at their homes and accordingly, they build the latrines by spending personal money. However it’s more than four years now, they are yet to get the funds from the government.

“Ahead of the elections, the concerned authorities asked us to immediately build latrines with our expenditure and assured to return the money soon. It’s been four years now, we are yet to receive the funds. The government is just beating the drums of open defecation free village but nothing has been done on the ground,” complained a beneficiary of Chatabari, Satyabadi Sahoo.

On the other hand, the concerned department has assured to take appropriate steps in this regard at the earliest.

“The left out families of LOB (left out of baseline survey) category will be included in the scheme and construction of toilets will be soon started at their households. However, construction of toilets is underway in many households of LOB category and it will be completed by March 15,” informed Diganta Routray, Project Director of DRDA Khurda.

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