No free rice if villages not open-defecation free: Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi

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Puducherry Lt Governor Kiran Bedi on Saturday sparked controversy when she announced that distribution of free rice would be halted if villages in the union territory do not get a certificate that they are free from open-defecation and garbage before May 31.

In a statement, Bedi said the scheme, which is intended to benefit more than half of its rural population, “shall be conditional to the certification of the village being open-defecation free and free of strewn garbage and plastics.” The villages would be required to submit a joint certificate given by the MLA and the Commune Commissioner to the Civil Supplies Commissioner to avail of the scheme,” a report in DNA quoted her as saying.

The local authorities have been given a four-week deadline to clean up and avail the certificate.

“I am very anguished at the slow pace of rural sanitation. Last two years I have not seen local representatives and concerned public officials determined to make rural Puducherry clean within a time frame. I am sorry this cannot go on,” according to DNA.

Following Bedi’s controversial remarks, AIADMK Legislature Party leader A Anbazhagan said that the remark made by her was unacceptable.

Talking to newspersons, Anbazhagan said these remarks amount to casting disgrace on the poor who are getting free rice and is a sort of threatening the rural people, which is not fit for the post of Lt.Governor.

It is the responsibility of the PWD, Local Administration Department and commune panchayat officials that the rural areas were kept clean.

Action should be initiated against the department officials if the rural areas were not clean, he said.

The AIADMK leader said cleaning garbage is the responsibility of the government and added that a private agency was engaged at a cost of Rs 22 crore to clean garbage in the town.

Officials should monitor whether they are doing their duty properly and if not should cancel the contract.

Instead of this, punishing the poor in the free rice scheme shows the ‘authoritarian’ attitude of the Lt.Governor, he said, adding that this is not a civilized act.
He wondered what would be the reaction of Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on the issue.

Describing the state plan board meeting on Friday Chaired by Ms Bedi as an ‘eye wash’, Mr Anbazhagan said the meeting should have been held in January to finalize the size of the annual budget.

He said legislature party leaders of different parties were invited for the meeting last year which was not done this year which create suspicion whether the government is functioning in a democratic way.

Alleging that corruption is rampant with the registration department here and Rs.

25000 to Rs.30,000 is being collected as a bribe to register a land document, Mr Anbazhagan urged the Lt.Governor to order for a probe.

Theft and burglary are on increase here, he said people are afraid to go to some other places during summer vacation.

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