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Swacch Bharat Mission funds "diverted" to transport people for Modi's Narmada rally in Madhya Pradesh

By Our Representative
Were funds meant for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious national cleanliness drive, Swacch Bharat Mission, diverted for making his Narmada rally at Amarkantak in Madhya Pradesh a grand success? It would seem so, if facts dug out by the Congress mouthpiece, “National Herald” (NH), are any indication.
Bordering Chhattisgarh, the pilgrim town of Amarkantak saw Modi talk of the state's plan to rejuvenate the river Narmada, asking people get involved in it.
"The biggest strength of democracy is people's participation. We are seeing great enthusiasm of people here to save the river Narmada", said Modi said. He was speaking at the concluding ceremony of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s 'Narmada Sewa Yatra', which was fagged off on December 11 last year to “rejuvenating”.
Documents released by NH show that Dr Atul Shrivastav, Programme Officer, State Swacch Bharat Mission, wrote to each of the 33 district collectors that every “motivator”, who would bring people to the rally, which took place on May 15, would be paid Rs 500, and for this “necessary funds have been depoited in the district Swacch Bharat Mission accounts.”
While this letter is dated May 12, 2017, another one, dated May 9, 2017, tells the district panchayats that the motivators would be given a T-shirt and a gamcccha (cotton towel) each, for which also funds have been allocated.
In all, according to NH’s calculation, a sum of at least Rs 17 crore was diverted, apart from other sources, from the budget of the Swachh Bharat Mission for transporting around 1.15 lakh people for Modi’s rally.
Document showing Swacch Bharat Mission
fund made available for Modi rally
Says NH, “Since the district administration of Singrauli, alone (120 buses) had asked for a sum of Rs 85.6 lakh for transportation, the actual expenditure on transportation is likely to be much higher than what appears to have been sanctioned.”
In all, says NH, “The culmination of a ‘padayatra’ on Monday in Madhya Pradesh, attended by Modi, prompted Madhya Pradesh government to mobilise 3,000 or more buses to ferry people, some from 900 km away.”
According to NH, the documents show, in all, funds were released from 51 districts for ‘buses deployed for the ‘Namami Devi Narmade’ rally at Amarkantak. Providing breakup, the documents suggest, district mobilized anywhere between 350 buses from Indore and 200 buses from Satna.
“A total of 2,885 buses are shown in the list for 31 districts (MP has 71 districts in all)”, NH says, adding, “Assuming 40 passengers travelled in each bus, 2,885 buses would have ferried 1.15 lakh people… Funds and buses appear to have been allotted to almost all the districts, including Jhabua (925 km away), Badwani (874 km away), Bhind (784 km away) and Bhopal (524 km away).”
“Even more curiously, while the rally was meant to be the culmination of a ‘padayatra’ (Narmada Seva Yatra), people were ferried, at least on paper, from all over the state. How they were selected is still not clear”, it adds.
NH further says, “Doubts have also been expressed over another communication from Development Commissioner Radheyshyam Julania, which suggests that only ₹2.84 crore have been sanctioned for participation of people at the function, where the Prime Minister and the chief minister would be inspiring people to clean and conserve rivers.”
It adds, “The controversy has triggered a debate on the use of public funds to essentially political ends. The Madhya Pradesh government would be hard put to even name the hundred thousand people or more, said critics, who attended the rally as people engaged in cleaning and conservation of Narmada.”

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