Chief minister Hemant Soren hands over a letter of intent, promising Rs 4.62 lakh to archer Deepika Kumari’s parents for setting up a toilet at their Ratu Chatti home. File picture
Ranchi, Jan. 12: A commission seeking nexus of contractors and officials are holding up the construction of a proper bathroom with running water at ace archer and Olympian Deepika Kumari’s Ratu Chatti home, 20km from Ranchi.
On a day when Deepika bagged recurve gold at National Ranking Archery Tournament (NRAT) in Delhi, this is a graft charge that not only hits the mark, but also punctures a whole lot of good intentions.
On November 27, 2013, the inaugural day of a weeklong World Toilet Day programme, chief minister Hemant Soren handed a letter of intent to Deepika’s parents Shiv Narayan and Geeta Devi, sanctioning Rs 4.62 lakh to construct a proper bathroom-toilet at the home of arguably Jharkhand’s most famous daughter.
When the state hands out a symbolic cheque, it doesn’t release the money directly to the awardee but hands it to the department concerned — in this case drinking water and sanitation — for the job. The department then gets the work done by choosing any of their empanelled contractors.
Sounds simple, but for almost two months, Deepika’s parents are getting a taste of Jharkhand’s officialdom, aided by a most unhelpful contractor raj.
Why piped water or a toilet are not seen at the Olympian’s home is because the parents allege the department’s contractors are demanding “10 per cent cuts for every job”.
The unsaid implication is that both the contractor and department officials involved in the job will share this “cut”.
Deepika, in New Delhi now for the NRAT, could not be contacted for comments, but her father Shiv Narayan did not mince words.
“Even a month ago, I was told funds are there but the contractor demanded 10 per cent commissions for each job. According to plans, jobs include construction of a toilet, laying water pipes, putting up tanks and taps. We also wanted to have tiles in the toilet. Going by the rate of 10 per cent commission per job, hardly any money will be left for the actual job,” he told The Telegraph.
He added he had stopped “following the case with the department”. Deepika’s mother Geeta Devi said all this was too complicated.
“Afsar log bolte hain prakriya kafi hai tender karna hoga sara kaam ka aur un sab mein 10 per cent commission lagta hai. Dekhiye humme bahut jyada sarkari vibhagon ki samajh nahin hai. Ya toh jo vaade kiye usse pura kare, ya fir paisa dede jisse hum khud kaam karwa le. (Officials tell us 10 per cent commission is needed for the tender process. Look, we don’t understand government department procedures. Either fulfil your promise, or give us the money so that we can get the job done on our own),” she said.
She also stressed they wouldn’t pay commissions.
Narayan, agreeing with his wife, said: “The job would have taken only two weeks. Even simple things get delayed due to complex government machinery.”
Principal secretary of drinking water and sanitation Sudhir Prasad couldn’t be contacted, but deputy secretary Ramakant Singh said their planning and monitoring unit (PMU) was overseeing the job.
“The plans and proposals are independently handled by the department’s wing. We are only involved with administrative tasks,” said Singh.
When The Telegraph contacted Samir Kumar Dawn, head and chief engineer of the PMU, he was forthright on the subject of commissions. “If that is the case, you be rest assured that action will be taken. I know which engineer has been entrusted. Now that you have told me, let me find it out and question him,” he said.
On when Deepika’s bathroom will be built, Dawn said: “It is part of a process. I cannot give information offhand. But it will be done soon.”
Till then, Deepika, please win more glory for the state to shame its officials.