Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has attracted the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the fact that about 15 lakh families in the state are devoid of improved toilet facilities, despite the state being declared open defecation free (ODF) in January 2018, during the regime of BJP government, and demanded extension of facilities to these families.
Baghel has also demanded a probe into the missing toilets for the 15 lakh families despite allocation of a budget of Rs 4,000 crore for the same by the central government.
In his letter to the PM, Baghel has also sought an enhancement in the financial assistance provided for the construction of toilet facilities, suggesting an increase from Rs 12,000 to Rs 30,000 per family. He has also requested approval for the construction of toilets in Maoist-affected and remote areas through gram panchayats.
Baghel, referring the National Family Health Survey 2019-21 (NFHS-5) data of the union ministry of health and family welfare, revealed that 88.2 per cent of families in urban areas of Chhattisgarh and 73.5 per cent in rural areas have improved toilet facilities. This indicates that 76.8 per cent of total families in the state are using upgraded toilet facilities, while 23.2 per cent are still deprived of this basic amenity. Additionally, the physical inspection of toilets during the recent socio-economic survey conducted by the state government aligns with the data released by the National Family Health Survey-5.
Baghel elaborated that under the previous government's tenure, over 32 lakh toilets were constructed in the state, and in January 2018, the entire state was declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). “An expenditure exceeding Rs 4,000 crore was allocated for these toilet constructions. Despite this substantial investment, around 15 lakh families in the state are currently devoid of access to improved toilet facilities and this is a matter of concern and investigation,” the CM said.
Baghel urged PM Modi that the Centre should initiate an independent third-party probe into the situation.
Seeks pending dues of Rs 6,000 crores
Chief Minister Baghel has written another letter to the PM, seeking his intervention in the release of pending dues to state agencies to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore.
In this letter, Baghel has mentioned that the dues are with the government of India and the Food Corporation of India.
He said that the state government continues to face significant losses in the disposal of surplus paddy after depositing the rice to the central pool, owing to the lack of reimbursement from the Government of India. This puts an added burden on the state government.
Urging swift action, Baghel called upon the PM to direct the officials concerned to establish a definite timeline for clearing the long-pending dues of the state agencies. Furthermore, he requested the PM to take necessary steps for the prompt transfer of the legal claim amount to the state government.