We Lost our Toilets to Corruption

World Water Week The Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan or what was once called the ‘Total Sanitation Campaign’ run by the Government of India envisions villages and semi urban areas with “healthy and clean surroundings.” Providing funds for the construction of toilets is one of its major functions. An otherwise great initiative, it has collapsed largely due to the corruption that plagues it; which scheme in India isn’t? IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, Mamta Patra from Sambalpur , Odisha reports on one such story from Chatuni village, Redhakol block. The village qualifies as a Notified Area Council (NAC), implying it is semi urban. Under the scheme, INR 9000 was allotted for construction of each toilet but only INR 3000-4000 was used by the contractor to complete the toilets that the residents of Chatuni had eagerly awaited. Well built toilets would have meant not having to walk into the bushes; for women it would eliminate a number of safety issues like having to use the toilet in the dark or during their periods. In short, it would have meant having a little convenience; having their rights to a dignified life. But… The contractors attempts to siphon off money from the scheme have resulted in toilets, that are 5ft tall & 3ft wide. The soak pit is only 2ft deep. There are no doors on the toilets. The contractor mislead the locals and acquired their signatures without constructing any toilets. Most of the families benefiting under this scheme are very poor or run by widows who have no income. Those he couldn’t confuse, he paid to get the signatures. Residents realised that they had been cheated only when executives from the Odisha State Water & Sanitation Mission came and showed them that in their records, the toilets have been constructed long time ago. The community wants to ensure the contractor is punished as per law for cheating them and that the toilets they were promised are built. Everyone has a right to a clean and healthy environment. Mamta requests you to call or text Prakash Narayan Sharma, Excutive Officer, NAC , Redhakol, Sambalpur District, Odisha at +91-9437084265 and ask him to take immediate action against the contractor and ensure that the toilets are built.

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