Racing against time to launch Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra
New Delhi: Even as the Central government has announced the inauguration of the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra on October 2 in New Delhi, work on the project is yet to begin at the site.
The inauguration date has been fixed to coincide with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi at whose samadhi, the Rajghat, the project will be located.
The project has been undertaken by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation of the Jal Shakti Ministry. Sources said an area of 3,000 square yard has been identified for the project in Rajghat.
In her Budget speech on July 5, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had outlined the Central government's plans to commemorate Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary.
"To mark this occasion, the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra will be inaugurated at Gandhi Darshan, Rajghat, on October 2, 2019," Sitharaman had said.
The Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti (GSDS), an autonomous body functioning under the Union Ministry of Culture, had been asked by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation to identify the parcel of land in Rajghat.
"We have identified the land for the project adjacent to the parking lot of Rajghat. The department has been allowed to go ahead with the project work at the site," said GSDS director Dipankar Srigyan.
When contacted, officials in the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation were non-committal on the completion date of the project. They also did not have the figures for the total cost of the project and said that it was being worked out.
"The project is under development. We are working on the details," a senior official of the department told IANS.
During his tenure as Union Culture Minister, Mahesh Sharma had announced on May 3, 2017, about the setting up of the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra. Sharma had said that the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra will be set up under the Swachh Bharat Mission by the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation at the GSDS, Rajghat.
The basic concept and design of the project was not announced by Sharma. The announcement, however, was made in the presence of Narendra Singh Tomar, who at the time held the portfolio of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
In 2019, the Union government has done away with the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. It has been merged with the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation to form the new portfolio of Jal Shakti Ministry.
Officials at the Culture Ministry, upon being contacted, said that they did not have the concept and design of the project and it was entirely the prerogative of the drinking water and sanitation department.