LAKHIMPUR: "The Union and State governments have misappropriated the funds meant for Swachh Bharat Mission and thus misused the public fund." This grave allegation was made by the All Assam Unemployed Association (AAUA) on Tuesday.
In support of the allegation, the AAUA State president-in-charge Dharmendra Deori and general secretary Jiban Rajkhowa, through a press communique, said that the general secretary of the organization had submitted an application through RTI Act, 2005 at the Office of the Chief Engineer, Public Health and Engineering, Hengerabari, Guwahati, seeking complete information about how much fund was allotted for the awareness meetings and the advertisement of the Swachh Bharat Mission and what amount of the allotted fund was utilized within 2017 and 2019.
"Following the submission of the RTI application, the Chief Engineer instructed the executive engineers of each and every district of Assam to provide the information to the general secretary of the organization. Even after the instruction, no executive engineer of the district, except the executive engineer of Darrang district, supplied the information sought through the application. It was found from the Darrang district executive engineer that an amount of Rs. 58,67,550 was spent against 140 hoardings without inviting any tender for the publicity of the Swachh Bharat Mission in his district. On the other hand, an amount of Rs. 44,76,934 was spent in the name of organizing awareness programs and publishing advertisements. From this, it is clear that the Swachh Bharat Mission is a scheme which is just confined to advertisement only," the press communique stated.
Through the same press communique, the AAUA added that the other executive engineers had abstained from supplying the information due to fear that the scams taking place with regard to the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission would be exposed.
The organization further alleged that the North Lakhimpur town had remained dirty even after the utilization of crores of funds. In connection with misappropriation of a fund amounting to Rs. 20 crore in the district regarding the construction of Individual Household Latrines, the organization stated, "The self-help groups and the NGOs which are formed for generating self-employment, have constructed the latrines spending their money but they have been deprived of their dues. We condemn this attitude of the department concerned. The people have not benefitted due to misappropriation of crores of funds being confined only to awareness programs and advertisements of the Swachh Bharat Mission."
Under such circumstances, the AAUA president-in-charge and the general secretary declared that the central committee of the organization would file a case in Gauhati High Court regarding the issue very soon.