Patna: The state rural development department has tweaked the rules for giving encouragement money to those who construct toilets under the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Mission (Rural) or the state government’s Lohia Swachchata Scheme.
Both schemes aim to make Bihar open defecation-free (ODF). The state government scheme covers certain categories of above poverty line families who are not entitled to the central scheme’s benefits.
According to the changed rules, beneficiaries in rural areas will now get the Rs 12,000 encouragement money if at least three-fourth (75 per cent) of the households in a ward under a village panchayat have toilets. Earlier, the encouragement money used to be released only if a ward used to be declared ODF, i.e. all households in the ward had toilets.
“We had feedback that in several wards around 90 per cent of the households had got toilets constructed but beneficiaries were not getting money. We realised their agony and hence the rules were changed,” said a senior state government official.
The official maintained that the 75 per cent barrier had still been kept as the main aim of the ODF drive was to make communities free from the ill-effects of open defecation and that if the scheme were to allow payment to beneficiaries without any condition, the community approach of the scheme would not be achieved.
“The rule tweak has been done in such a manner that the essence of the scheme is not compromised with and at the same time just few of the laggards cannot become a hurdle for those who opt to construct toilets,” the official added.
Only about half of Bihar’s households have toilets, as per latest government figures. The state still needs to construct around 85 lakh toilets to achieve ODF status, as according to the survey conducted by the state government in 2011-12, there were over 1.6 crore households at that time in Bihar which do not have a toilet.
Courtesy: The Telegraph