Officials of Sulabh International, an NGO which constructed toilets in 25 districts of the state under Integrated Low Cost Sanitation Scheme (ICLS), and some government officials have been accused by the State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) of being involved in “serious financial irregularity and criminal conspiracy” involving Rs 9.39 crore.
The money was paid to the NGO by former SUDA director Chintamani and former SUDA finance controller V K Srivastava under “NGO charges” for various works, including making biometric photo identity card of beneficiaries, maintenance of constructed toilets as well as organising seminars and training to create awareness about the scheme.
However, an official inquiry has found that the NGO, in spite of receiving the funds, did not perform the tasks. In his report, Joint Director B K Yaduvanshi has said that the two SUDA officials as well as Sulabh International “have committed serious financial irregularity and criminal conspiracy”.
The inquiry was ordered after an audit report of the scheme, submitted in September, stated that an amount of Rs 9.39 crore was paid to Sulabh International by Chintamani and Srivastava in violation of government orders. “We found that the amount was paid to NGO Sulabh International directly from SUDA whereas it should have been paid by the respective district officials after completion of the work,”Yaduvanshi told The Indian Express. “We have submitted our report to the director of SUDA.”
The toilets were to be constructed in the urban areas of 53 districts to replace dry toilets under the Government of India-sponsored ILCS scheme. Of these, Sulabh International was working in 25 districts including Aligarh, Ambedkarnagar, Azamgarh, Badayun, Bareilly, Bahraich, Bulandshahr, Chandaulu, Etawah, Ferozabad, Ghaziabad, Gorakhpur, Hamirpur, Hardoi, Jalaun, Kanpur, Lalitpur, Mainpuri, Mathura, Moradabad, Mirzapur, Rampur, Shahjahanpur, Siddharthanagar and Unnao.
The district magistrates of 25 districts were asked to verify the work of the NGO. The district magistrates have reported that biometric ID cards were not made by Sulabh International in 24 districts, maintenance of toilets was not done in 17 districts and seminars were not organised in any of the districts while training was not given in 23 districts.
The officials of the NGO named in the inquiry report are S R Imam and Sushil Kumar Jha, controller and deputy controller. Jha denied the allegations, saying, “We were supposed to make the cards of the beneficiaries after a year of construction of the toilet and the work is going on in many districts. Maintenance was to be done only if we received a complaint and none of the DUDA officials or beneficiary has complained about the constructed toilet till now. Training and seminars were conducted in all the districts, which convinced the beneficiaries to get the toilets constructed in the first place,” said Jha.
Imam said, “We have already conducted a biometric survey of beneficiaries for the scheme in 2008. However, since the number of cards to be made is over 73,000, the process is still going on.” He said the toilets were constructed between 2009 and 2011 and the payment was made by SUDA “only after the DMs submitted their report verifying the construction of toilets”.
A few months ago, Chintamani and Srivastava, along with officials of Sulabh International and other NGOs, were named in an FIR lodged by SUDA officials in Rampur district when it was found that payment had been made against alleged fake construction of toilets.
Similar irregularities were also unearthed in Meerut and Bareilly districts, after which the government ordered district magistrates of all 53 districts to physically verify the construction of toilets under the scheme and submit their reports by November 2. Most of the reports are still awaited, said Yaduvanshi.