| BJP MLAs protest against the government outside the Assembly on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Patna, July 17: This Independence Day, chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi would announce the construction of two million toilets despite public health and engineering department (PHED) minister Mahachandar Prasad Singh today developing a cold feet in the Assembly on the possibility of a debate on the issue because of the state’s poor execution record in the last fiscal.
In 2013-14, the state had set a target of constructing 12,12,716 toilets but could build only 1,61,666. Singh rattled out the figures in the Assembly in response to a question of JDU MLA Izhar Ahmad.
Former chief minister Nitish Kumar was in charge of PHED for a major part of 2013-14.
Singh virtually scored a self-goal offering to hold a debate on the subject despite the state failing to meet its target in 2013-14. Parliamentary affairs minister Srawan Kumar looked alarmed at the offer of his colleague.
Realising his mistake, the PHED minister tried to wriggle out by refusing to react to the statement of the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Nand Kishore Yadav, that he was willing to accept the offer. Even RJD leader Abdul Bari Siddiqui supported the idea of a special debate.
When the minister refused to react, Yadav asked Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhary to announce a special debate. The Speaker said he would hold a half-an-hour debate on the issue later.
Union minister for state for drinking water and sanitation Upendra Kushwaha had issued a statement in the Rajya Sabha that Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha had the lowest sanitation rates in India. The Union government runs the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), under which a beneficiary pays Rs 900 and the state and the Centre join hands to give Rs 10,000 for constructing a toilet. Singh, the state PHED minister, attributed the failure of the state to meet the target in the last financial year to tagging of the construction of toilets with MGNREGA.
Singh said he would go to Delhi in the first week of August and plead before the Union government to increase the allocation for toilets. He promised that by 2022 the government plans to end open defecation in the state.
Responding to a question raised by BJP’s Nitin Navin on leaking water pipes in Patna, urban development minister Samrat Choudhary said the Patna Water Board had a three-member team to look into the pipe leakages.
During the zero hour, the BJP raised the issue of deteriorating law and order situation in the state.
In the Bihar Legislative Council, former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi raised the issue of police firing in Rohtas district again and demanded a judicial probe. He said the probe by the inspector-general and commissioner was an eyewash.