Kiran Bedi Suspends Puducherry "No Toilets, No Rice" Order After Anger

The directive owes its origin to Kiran Bedi's visit to a village this morning and didn't like what she saw.

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The inspiration for the directive came during Kiran Bedi's visit to a village.


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Puducherry lieutenant governor said villages must be open defecation free
  2. Had linked free rations, dialysis at hospitals to the cleanliness drive
  3. Provoked opposition attacks which calls the order 'dictatorial'
Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi on Saturday suspended an order that said the union territory's poorest families entitled to free rice will not get the grains from next month-end unless they can produce a certificate that their village is open defecation free and cleaned up after the move triggered sharp attacks from the Congress that called it "dictatorial".

The controversial order came months after a UN sanitation expert Leo Heller had taken a dim view of such attempts to arm-twist people, saying the Swachh Bharat mission's "open defecation free" programme should not be "human rights free".

Ms Bedi told the administration that community leaders in rural areas were vociferous and proactive to seek better facilities from the government but did not show the same enthusiasm for the sanitation campaigns under the Swachh Bharat programme.

The inspiration for the directive came during Ms Bedi's visit to a village this morning. She thought the village was too filthy and decided to crack the whip.

"The hospital wants machines. You want free rice, old age pension, widow pension... You want everything but you can't keep your village clean, which you have to do," she rebuked the villagers at a small function.

The ultimatum came soon after.

"If you want dialysis machine (at local state-run hospital), clean up your village. You want free rice, clean up your village... Men, women children, everyone clean up your village. "(You have) one month's time. It will be given to you only on the condition that the village is clean," Ms Bedi said.

She later extended the condition, and deadline to all villages in the union territory.

In a letter to Chief Minister V Narayanasamy soon after, Ms Bedi said she had ordered the civil supplies commissioner to send a notice to all villages, giving them time till 31 May to clean up the villages.

Kiran Bedi later extended the condition, and deadline to all villages in the union territory.

On social media, she released video clips from her visit to the village. She called the decision the "learning of morning round today"

The Congress says it is dictatorial and asked PM Narendra Modi to explain if it had his approval.

"Has Modiji told Kiran Bedi to do this? Does Modiji know what Kiran Bedi is doing?... Ordering officials that let people die of hunger but don't given them ration," asked Congress leader Pawan Khera.

Facing mounting criticism, Ms Bedi withdrew the order for now later in the evening. "To avoid misreading of this intention and in view of the forthcoming commitment made by the UT Government  that villages in Puducherry will achieve ODF by June end, I am happy to give them some more time. Therefore I am withholding my earlier communications."

Puducherry, like Delhi, is a union territory where the Lt Governor and not the Chief Minister often has the last word on many topics.

Ms Bedi, who was the BJP's presumptive chief minister for the 2015 elections in Delhi, was appointed as the centre's nominee to Puducherry in 2016. Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy often accuses the Lt Governor of exceeding her brief.



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