Scam in Swachh Bharat Abhiyan: Massive irregularities alleged in toilets construction

Cuttack: The Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan seems to have taken a backseat in Odisha as the State government has allegedly failed to check massive irregularities in the mission to make the country and the state open defecation free (ODF).

While the State government claims to have made all the blocks and districts of the State open defecation free, unabated large scale corruption at the grass roots level has ruined the sole purpose of the Swachh Bharat mission.

An OTV investigation revealed gross irregularities in Gobinadapur panchayat under Banki sub division in Cuttack district where construction of toilets have been left half-built. While some toilets have no doors, bushes have started growing in others making a mockery of the project in the area.

A beneficiary of the project and resident of Gobinadapur, Bansidhar Maharana alleged that the organisation that took the tender to build toilets in the area took the government-sanctioned money from the villagers and left the construction midway.

“The concerned officials had come for documentation work and also clicked some photographs but construction of the toilets is yet to be completed. Despite repeated complaints, the officials are only giving us assurances,” said Maharana.

Another beneficiary, Sukhi Maharana alleged, “We are forced to defecate outside as the toilet we have, has no door. Besides, the pan installed inside it has got blocked.”

“Even if the government is sanctioning funds for construction of toilets, middlemen are swindling the money by making false bills,” rued another beneficiary of the Swachh Bharat mission, Tuna Mallick.

Similarly, many villagers have also complained that even if the construction of toilets at their homes has not been completed, documents revealed that bills have been made in their names and also got cleared.

Under the Indian Household Latrines (IHLs) project, a survey was conducted to construct 1,053 toilets in the region and the funds for the same was also sanctioned ( as per the Sub-Division officer (SDO) of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, RWSS). However, bills in the name of seven beneficiaries have been have been cleared even though construction of toilets are yet to be completed.

“They clicked some photographs by placing a temporary door near the toilet and left the construction midway. When I asked the same, they replied that the door will be fixed later. It’s been nine months, they have not turned up to complete the construction work,” alleged a beneficiary, Majulata Jena- bill in her name has also been cleared.

“We have a target to construct 1, 053 toilets under the project. If any such irregularities are found, we will hold the payments of the concerned contractor and recovered money from them. Appropriate action will be taken if the concerned officials are also found guilty,” informed SDO of RWSS, Bijay Kumar Sahu.