Bhubaneswar, Sep 9
Close to 73 percent Gram Panchayats recommended by the Odisha government for the Nirmal Gram Puraskar (NGP), the flagship recognition system under the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC), failed to meet eligibility criteria in the last three years.
According to an audit report, close to 73 per cent of the state government’s recommendations have been rejected by the Centre in the last three years for not meeting eligibility criteria laid down for the award.
The report said that while 569 applications were submitted to Department of Drinking Water Supply, a whopping 73 per cent were turned down by the Centre.
An audit of the NGP has brought to the fore how the applications were made without proper verification by the districts as well as state level authorities. Assessment made by the Centre through independent agencies found loopholes in most of them leading to their disqualification. Despite such a large number of applications being turned down, the Odisha Government kept sending more with the same flaws, leading to more rejections.
In 2009-10, out of 63 applications, 43 were disqualified. Next year, the state sent 234 applications of which 153 failed to meet the laid down criteria. Of the 270 applications filed in 2011-12, as many as 222 were disqualified.
As per the norms, to be eligible for NGP, all households in the village or panchayati raj institution (PRI) must have access to individual toilets or community complexes.
All government, private, aided and unaided schools and anganwadi centres must have functional and clean toilets and urinals. There should be complete elimination of open defecation in the PRI area and nobody, including the floating population, must defecate in the open while child faeces have to be disposed of in toilets. Besides, PRI must have adopted a resolution in the gram sabha to ban open defecation and impose penalty.
Basing on these parameters, PRIs are to submit application in a prescribed format which needs to be verified at the district level before being sent to state government for recommendation of the award.
The audit, however, found that applications were not properly checked at the district level as the Collectors did not take adequate care to ensure that the recommendations meet the prescribed criteria.
Similarly, the Internal Scrutiny Committee, the Odisha State Water and Sanitation Mission (OSWSM) and the State level Scrutiny Committee also did not check the applications and the factual positions before giving their consent.