The morning of May 16, 2015 saw thousands of officials from the state of Telangana busy with sweeping the streets of the state's capital of Hyderabad as Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao formally launched the 'Swachh Hyderabad' program.
The program, which was a state-level version of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan', saw senior politicians and top officials take up brooms and clear tonnes of garbage off the streets of Hyderabad. The cleaning drive was preceded by a grand event at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC) where the chief minister addressed a gathering and promised that toilets would be built across the state.
It has been six months since and several crore rupees have been spent, but it is unclear if even a single new toilet has been built.
And that's not the case with just toilets.
Documents from the Telangana government accessed through an RTI by Hyderabad based activist and Lok Satta Party member Sambi Reddy has revealed that the program has spent a major part of the allocated money on publicity, advertising and official tours and not much on actual infrastructure.
The state has spent Rs 6.49 crore of the total money allotted under the 'Swachh Bharat' scheme while the 'Swachh Hyderabad' spent only Rs 1.57 crore.
According to the RTI response, which covers the time period between April 1 and September 7, 2015, 13.78 lakh from the Swachh Bharat scheme was spent for a two day trip in June to Delhi and and Nagpur for a 'study on improvement of solid waste management'.
Around 4.69 lakh was spent just "towards pole boards star flex, displays, standees, back drop, side panels etc in connection with the Swachh Hyderabad Orientation Programme held in May at HICC, Hyderabad,"
Equipping everyone at the event with a cap cost the state exchequer 24.25 lakh while t-shirts cost another 15 lakh. All in all, the event was a very costly affair with over 33 lakh spent just for the venue and setting up the stage.
The largest chunk of money was spent for renting and hiring machinery to clear the debris from the streets of Hyderabad. More vehicles were rented during festivals and even more during the Telangana formation day celebration which occurred on June 2, 2015 and saw an expenditure above 75 lakh from the scheme.
However, there is no mention of any new infrastructure being built by the Greater Hyderabad Municpal Corporation (GHMC).
"Within GHMC limits, most slums and government colleges don't have the minimal number of public toilets required and even after one year of sloganeering and spending eight crore rupees, the fact remains that not even one toilet is built. Last year, the GHMC promised to build 100 public toilet complexes, which was conveniently ignored or forgotten completely by the officials. When no public facility is built and provided, how can the mission of 'Swachh Hyderabad' be achieved?" a press release by the Lok Satta leaders who had filed the RTI stated.