Prime Minister slips on toilet building claims in Bihar?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim in Motihari, Bihar on April 10 that the state built 8.5 lakh toilets in a week’s time invited both gasps and ridicule

Photo courtesy:
Photo courtesy:

NH Web Desk

Speaking in Motihari, Bihar on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now known for being economical with facts, made the startling declaration that during the previous week, as many as 8,50,000 toilets were built in Bihar, undoubtedly inspired by him.

People on Twitter predictably were sceptical. One of them, Edward Anderson, quipped that it was indeed impressive to manufacture 84 toilets in 60 seconds!

“It has been pointed out that constructing 8.5 lakh toilets in a week equates to: 121,428 a day, 5,059 an hour and 84 a minute. 1.4 every second. Impressive.

Leader of Opposition in Bihar, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav also took a swipe and ridiculed the claim. “PM claimed 8.50 Lacs toilets made just in a week in Bihar. 1 week= 7 Days 1 Day= 24 Hrs. 7 Days= 168 Hrs. 1 Hour= 60 Mins So every hour=5059 Toilets; 84.31 Toilets per minute ! Such a big goof-up from PM Sahaheb. I believe even CM Bihar won’t agree on such false claims,” he tweeted.

The Prime Minister’s penchant for magnifying achievements may have prompted him to overstate the claim. Because the CEO and Mission Director of Bihar’s ‘Lohia Swachh Bihar Abhiyan’ Balamurugan D told the BBC that the toilets were actually built over a period of four weeks. And this was preceded by preparatory work over the previous one and a half years.

Bihar is of course a pioneering state, where Bindeshwar Pathak of Sulabh Shauchalaya fame, launched his mission to provide toilets to the masses way back in 1969.

But by the state government’s own reckoning this week, it has a long way to go with only 43% of the state’s households having a toilet. No district in Bihar has yet been declared ‘Open Defecation Free’, though Rohtas district is said to be close to acquiring that distinction first.

The Prime Minister cannot be oblivious, however, to the ‘Toilet Scam’ that rocked Bihar late last year. That was when it was revealed that in Patna district alone, a handful of officials had colluded to siphon off ₹15 crore meant for construction of toilets and in a matter of less than two months.

Audit reports testify to the widespread embezzlement and siphoning of public funds in all target-bound populist schemes. Assuming each toilet is officially priced at ₹10,000, calculate how much money is required for 8.5 lakh units.

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