The Allahabad High Court has directed the Principal Secretary (Panchayati Raj) to constitute a three-member committee to carry out on-the-spot inspection and find out the status of toilets being constructed in rural areas using central funds. The committee has been directed to submit the first report in two months and, thereafter, one every fortnight before the court.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Dilip Gupta passed the order Friday while hearing a PIL filed by Aishwarya Gupta and five others, all law students, in which it was alleged that Rs 293 crore is lying with the state government unutilised in this connection.
The petitioners have claimed that absence of toilets at home have led to rise in crimes against women.
Passing the order, the court said: “The Principal Secretary, Panchayati Raj, shall constitute a committee which will include a judicial officer as a member, an officer from the Vigilance Department and one senior officer of Panchayati Raj, for the purposes of verifying construction of toilets in village panchayats by spot inspection. The committee shall be constituted within 15 days from the date of the receipt of this order.”
The court added the committee would get FIRs registered and initiate recovery of money against erring officials if the implementation of the scheme was different from what was being claimed by the government.
During a previous hearing of the matter, the court had sought the status of toilet construction scheme in rural areas of the state.
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The state had informed the court that under the NBA, a total of 7.47 lakh toilets were planned to be constructed in the year 2012-13 and 8.91 lakh toilets were planned for 2013-14. Against the total target of 16.39 lakh toilets, 9.94 lakh have been constructed. The achievement for 2012-13 was 82.79 per cent, while for 2013-14 the target met was 42.09 per cent.
However, the petitioners pointed out that the figures presented an incorrect picture when compared to the actual status on the ground.
The state government gets central funds for construction of toilets under three schemes — Indira Awas Yojana, NBA and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. It was pointed out by the petitioners that out of Rs 543 crore released by the Centre, only 42 per cent funds have been utilised.