Swachh Bharat Gramin Mission hits stumbling blocks in Odisha

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 13:

The Swachh Bharat (Gramin) Mission programme in Odisha has hit stumbling blocks right from the start with the tussle between the Centre and the States over its financing.

Swachh Bharat Abhuyan Clean IndiaThe Union Rural Development Ministry is learnt to have decided to reduce Central assistance to 50% for this programme. The state is yet to receive a rupee from the Centre by the end of the first month of the new financial year.

While Odisha has set a target to construct 79 lakh toilets in the state by October 2, 2019, 12 lakh toilets are planned to be constructed during this year.

The state government is in a quandary in view of the revised decision of the Centre.

Sources said the state government will have to incur an additional burden of Rs 2400 crore in the next five years in the event of Centre reducing its contribution by another 25%. Since contributing such amount of funds is not possible the state government has began back tracking. Doubts have been expressed over completion of construction of toilets within the scheduled time.

As per the objective of the Swachh Bharat (Gramin) Mission programme the Central government has given targets to all states that there should be no family left without a toilet within five years beginning October 2, 2014 to October 2, 2019. According to the original programme Central government was to contribute 75% of the funds with the state’s share being 25%.

According to statistics available with the state’s Rural Development department 89% of the population in the state do not have toilets in their homes. Only 11% of the population in the state has access to toilets. In order to ensure toilets in all homes in the state the government needs to construct 79 lakh toilets within five years.

As per programme toilets will be constructed in all homes which do not have toilets the beneficiaries could be from APL or BPL families. Cost of each toilet has been kept at Rs 12,000. The beneficiary can either construct it himself or can get it constructed through youth associations or self help groups.

About 1.6 lakh toilets have been constructed under the programme within seven months of its implementation in the state. In 305 villages toilets have been constructed in cent percent homes. Angul district ranks top in implementation of the programme in the state.

However, the programme has hit stumbling blocks since the state government received information that the Central government is considering to change the proportion of Centre-State contribution to 50:50 basis.  The new proposition will entail an additional burden of Rs 2400 crore on the state government towards its share. Considering the current fiscal situation of the state government arranging such quantum of funds for the programme will not be possible, said a top official of the state government.

The state’s target for the current year has been kept at construction of 12 lakh toilets which requires Rs 1440 crores. The state government is yet to receive any funds from the Centre for this programme in the current financial year. The Rural Development department of the state government has availed an advance of Rs 100 crore to keep the programme running in the state resulting in problems on achievement of target.

Sources in the Rural Development department said toilets constructed by beneficiaries under Indira Awas Yojana in the year 2000 or after have also been damaged requiring fresh construction of toilets. Similarly, toilets constructed under Total Sanitation Programme have been totally damaged requiring fresh construction. For the purpose the state government has sought funds for construction of 4.5 lakh toilets from the Swachh Bharat (Gramin) Mission programme funds, they added.

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