Less than 24 hours after Kiran Bedi announced a new ‘policy’ to stop the distribution of free rice to those villages that are not open defecation and garbage free, the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry has withdrawn the order.
In an announcement on Twitter, she said, “In view of misreading of my intent to improve d living conditions of rural poor & in view of assured commitment that rural areas will be Open defecation free by June 2018, I have clarified my earlier communications to put at rest any misgivings.Tom shall b my 156, weekend round.”(sic)
In view of misreading of my intent to improve d living conditions of rural poor & in view of assured commitment that rural areas will be Open defecation free by June 2018,— Kiran Bedi (@thekiranbedi) April 28, 2018
I have clarified my earlier communications to put at rest any misgivings.Tom shall b my 156, weekend round.
The fresh announcement came after Kiran Bedi faced severe criticism for her move, largely seen as draconian for punishing the poor for administrative inefficiency.
Slamming the move for interfering with the basic rights of people, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy told TNM on Saturday, “In Puducherry, most of the rural villages are clean. There are problems in a few villages which we will concentrate upon. For that, the administrator without knowing the implication of the instructions she has given, she is trying to meddle with the rights of the people for which she has no power.”
“What Kiran Bedi has said is against the spirit of the National Food Security act. Not only is this unconstitutional but it shows that she doesn't know about the current situation. There is lack of cleanliness in Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Will they stop free rice scheme there?” he had asked.
According to her initial statement, rice distribution, “shall be conditional to the certification of the village being open defecation free and free of strewn garbage and plastics by submitting a joint certificate given by the MLA and the Commune Commissioner to the Civil Supplies Commissioner. Till then the free rice supplies will be kept on hold and in safe storage. It shall be distributed to the beneficiaries on the village being certified clean.”
The statement was addressed to MLAs, secretaries and the Government of India. Not only did she give just four weeks to beneficiaries to get the 'clean' certificate but has also threatened to withhold supplies till then.
Kiran Bedi said her 'anguish' is what led to the decision. "I am very anguished at the slow pace of rural sanitation. Last two years I have not seen local representatives and concerned public officials determined to make rural Puducherry clean within a time frame. I am sorry this cannot go on," she said. "All constituencies are given four weeks notice to clean up their respective areas to be entitled for the free rice. The notice period ends on May 31st."