BHUBANESWAR: Last year, while giving away the ‘Nirmal Gram Purashkar’, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik claimed that ‘total sanitation campaign (TSC) should not be taken as a Government programme. Rather it should be considered a social movement’. Well, if the instance of Boudh district is anything to go by, the ‘social movement’ is mired in corruption.
After a section of the media reported that funds are being misappropriated in the name of toilet construction in the district, the Odisha State Water and Sanitation Mission (OSWSM) sent in a technical advisor to look into the state of affairs. The inspection report has brought out serious irregularities in the name of sanitation campaign.
In villages, where the random checks were conducted, dead persons turned out to be beneficiaries in some cases. In many instances, the toilets, shown as constructed, did not exist __ or rather existed only on paper __ whereas in many cases, poor quality of work marred the whole purpose of the campaign.
At Juramunda village under Bahira GP of Boudh block, the executing agency reimbursed the cost for constructing 75 toilets. When the technical advisor inspected nine of the beneficiaries, it came to fore that in five cases, the toilets did not exist because beneficiaries were dead persons. In one, the beneficiary had migrated while in another, there was no sign of a toilet at all. Two toilets had just brick walls without leach pit and ceramic pan.
Interestingly, the executing agency was a couple who had been blacklisted in Sonepur since 2009 because of poor quality of work it did. In fact, the local sarpanch too complained of shoddy work and how false bills had been submitted by the agency which had forged signatures of beneficiaries and others for cost reimbursement. All the works were verified by local RWSS officials.
In Kantamal block’s Charpali village under Khatkhatia GP, 60 toilets were constructed and the cost was reimbursed to the implementing agency. But the story remained the same. Of the 10 toilets, which came under inspection, eight did not exist whereas in two, the beneficiaries were dead persons.
The story of Jogindrapur New UP School in the same block was a tad different. The former sarpanch of the GP had constructed two toilets in the school using the Nirmal Gram Purashkar prize money. Each toilet cost Rs 70,000, but another agency __ an NGO __ submitted the bill and was paid too.
The report found that implementing agencies have been collecting signatures of beneficiaries in abstract sheet along with application before starting work and it is submitted for reimbursement before completion of work.