Swacch Bharat toilets in Odisha stink of corruption: OTV Investigation

Balasore: At a time when the Swachh Bharat Mission is turning out to be the world’s biggest mass movement on sanitation in urban as well as rural areas, lack of transparency and rampant corruption allegedly in the implementation of several toilet projects in Balasore district have certainly raised many eyebrows.

An investigation by OTV revealed massive corruption in the projects with the actual beneficiaries being deprived of facilities albeit names of many dead persons were found in the list.

Saroj Kumar Mohanty, a Dibyang resident of Ward No. 16 in Balasore Municipality was sanctioned Rs 8,000 for construction of a toilet in his house under the Swacch Bharat Mission Scheme. However, availing a toilet facility in his house has not been possible after the concerned contractor left it incomplete citing insufficient sanctioned funds.

“The toilet construction was left midway. They told me that I have been sanctioned Rs 8,000 because I am blind. Despite being assured of a toilet, it was left incomplete,” alleged Saroj.

Contractor Nabal Kumar Singh stated that there is no provision to install doors in toilets within the sanctioned amount. “I have already spent Rs 9000 for the construction and I am not going to do it,” he said.

On the other hand, Municipality Executive Engineer Kanhu Charan Mallick, speaking to OTV said, “The problem has come to my knowledge now. I will definitely find a solution.”

Not only Saroj, many such beneficiaries from Basta, Jaleswar and Bhogarai blocks have brought serious allegations against the construction firms claiming that they have looted money without even constructing a toilet. Reports further revealed that the firms, mentioning the name of the dead in the list, gulped huge funds by making bills in their names.

Sunil Kumar Senapati, Vigilance SP informed, “During a surprise check, we found two such non-executions in Nijampur GP under Remuna block, while as many as 27 toilets were not executed at all in Bhogarai block, Amidanagadia, Antarai and Balimi under Balimi GP.”

Meanwhile, Balasore District Collector said that he was unaware of the alleged corruption in the projects. “This needs a probe. If I receive any specific allegations, I would order a probe. In case there is any misappropriation of funds or corruption, necessary action will be taken.”

It may be mentioned here that of the 361776 toilets aimed to be built in 12 blocks of Balasore district by the end of 2018 financial year, as per government reports, only 348927 were completed.

However OTV’s ground report claims that the government report is an eyewash that only exists in pen and paper but far from reality.