The Congress has hit out at the BJP government in Rajasthan for “harassment” of villagers, saying it has threatened to deny rations to households without toilets and warned them of criminal prosecution for open defecation.
Rajasthan Congress president Sachin Pilot said the state government’s execution of the Centre’s cleanliness drive is leading to harassment of people in the state. “In its recent directive, the BJP government declared that only those ration card holders who have obtained the completion certificate after construction of toilets will be eligible for getting ration allocations, which is a violation of their basic right to food,” he said in a statement.
He accused the state government of coercive measures in implementing the open defecation free (ODF) scheme, citing an order that has warned villagers of prosecution under various sections of the IPC for open defecation. Pilot said that his party’s Rajiv Gandhi Panchayati Raj Organisation contacted 1,070 families spread across 40 villages in 11 districts of Rajasthan and found out that the ODF programme has lost its relevance and become a source of great inconvenience for people.
He also alleged that the state government is giving “inflated” figures of open defecation free areas in Rajasthan. “Many of the areas that have been declared free from open defecation by the government still have a lot many households without toilets,” he said. He also alleged that children whose families were unable to afford constructing a toilet were “singled out and harassed” in schools forcing them to drop out.
The state government provides a grant of Rs 12,000 for the construction of a toilet under the scheme, while actual cost in rural areas comes to around Rs 20,000. Also, the grant is provided after the construction of toilets, he said.