As many as 1.87 lakh families in rural Patna are still awaiting to get the reimbursement promised under the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin scheme for constructing toilets in their houses.
Poverty-stricken Dinanath Rai and Surajdeo Mahto constructed toilets in their house last year at their own cost but are yet to get back the money they spent. They have been running from pillar to post for over a year to get their money but nothing helped.
“Some time officials point out that my Aadhaar card is not linked, some time they say my paper work is half done and ask me to visit again. It has become a common practice. I borrowed money from my relatives and constructed a toilet in my house last year at the assurance of an officer that I will be given back the amount soon after verification of the toilent,” said Dinanath Rai, a resident of a village in Danapur block in Patna district.
“It appears that I did a blunder by believing them,” he said.
Surajdeo Mahto, a resident of a village in Bihta block in Patna, said he had taken RS 12,000 on credit for construction of a toilet as he was sure to get reimbursement from the government agency. “It is now a long wait, I am yet to recieve the moeny. It is a sad reality.”
Sanjay Kumar, District Nodal Officer of Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin, said 1.87 lakh people are yet to be paid the amount for construction of toilets. “We have decided to pay the amount and for that we are launching a campaign,” he said.
In Patna, construction of toilets started in 2011 and by 2015-16, over one lakh families had constructed toilets and all of them were paid amount for it.
But later, the process of verification by officials of block offices was delayed that resulted in non payment of amount to the beneficiaries, who had constructed toilets, a district rural development department official said.
“Lack of staff for physical verification in villages are delaying payment of amount for construction of toilets. One staff has been assigned more than two or three panchayats for verification work to ensure that amount should go to those who constructed toilets,” thee official said.
According to the official data of the state government, there are 5.80 lakh families in rural Patna and of them 2.74 lakh families were selected to be paid for construction of toilets. Remaining families already had toilets in their houses.
People in other districts like Aurangabad, Areal and Jehanabad are also yet to get their money reimbursed for contructing toilets.
Till date, five of the 38 districts of Bihar were declared open defecation free (ODF) but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has repeatedly announced to achieve the state ODF status by October 2, 2019.
As per the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin, Bhagalpur, Kaimur, Begusarai, Khagaria and Kishanganj districts are ODF.