DHENKANAL: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project __ Swachh Bharat programme that aims to make India open defecation-free by 2019 __ seems to have made little impact in Dhenkanal. Although there are sufficient funds, officials in charge of the project lack willingness to sensitise people on ills of open defecation and importance of having a toilet at home. As a result, there has not been much behavioural change in people.
There is a target to construct 2.99 lakh lavatories in the district by 2019. Beneficiaries are provided Rs 12,000 for construction of a latrine. According to official report, the district administration has received Rs 40 crore under Swachh Bharat programme in the current financial year. So far, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) wing __ the implementing agency __ has completed 46,000 latrines against its target of 50,000 in different blocks. But there are allegations galore in the implementation of the project.
Even as 46,000 latrines are in place, the RWSS in a survey has found out that the facilities are rarely being put to use in several blocks and people continue to defecate in the open. Of the Rs 40 crore under Swachh Bharat programme, up to eight per cent of the money is earmarked under ‘Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness’ for creating awareness among people regarding sanitation practices. However, in case of Dhenkanal, the funds have been returned by BDOs of several blocks.
Dhenkanal Sadar BDO Sipra Sethy said as grassroots level workers are already overburdened with projects, there is little scope left for initiating awareness drives. “The focus currently is on construction of latrines and we have so far completed 9,000 latrines against the target of 14,000 in the block. Work on the others will be finished soon,” she said.
At Kankadahada block, almost all the villagers practice open defecation and there has been no behavioural change even as latrines have been constructed for every family in the block. Kankadahada BDO Basant Kumar Mallick said funds under IEC and Public Awareness component of Swachh Bharat programme have not been utilised and returned to the RWSS.
“Kankadahada is not the solitary case. BDOs of several blocks have returned the money meant for creating awareness. There are instances where latrines have been constructed in houses but house owners continue to go out for relieving themselves,” said RWSS Executive Engineer Bijaynanda Sahoo. He had informed Collector Roopa Roshan Sahoo about the problem at the District Planning Committee (DPC) meeting on February 19.
Sahoo has sought intervention of DPC chairman and Parjang MLA Nrusingha Charan Sahoo to direct the BDOs to launch awareness campaigns on healthy sanitation practices. “If the latrines are not used, the purpose of Swachh Bharat will be defeated,” he said.
■ Even as 46,000 latrines are in place in the district, the RWSS in a survey has found out that the facilities are rarely being put to use in several blocks and people continue to defecate in the open
■ There is a target to construct 2.99 lakh lavatories in the district by 2019
■ Funds for ‘Information, Education & Communication (IEC) and Public Awareness’ under the project are being returned to RWSS by BDOs