New Delhi: In the very first meeting after assuming the charge of Rural Development Minister, Jairam Ramesh has come across some shocking and contradictory figures of projects undertaken by the department.

Giving thrust to clean drinking water and sanitation projects, Ramesh had called a meeting of departmental authorities on Thursday. However, he was taken by surprise as the fact and figures presented by the departmental authorities have reflected their callous approach in the projects.

Talking about the next approach Ramesh said, “Sanitation is most important need in India today. If you come across filth it is easy to imagine how much we care about our hygiene.  Sanitation drive is the most important programme, which is severely under-funded."

Revealing the false estimates presented in the meeting, he said though the Union Government had decided to complete the sanitation drive in 57 percent villages by 2015, the official records reflect that the target has already been achieved in 72 percent villages. However, a survey by an independent agency claims that the sanitation drive has been completed in only 31 percent villages.

Hence, there is a big difference between the facts presented before the Minister and the ground reality. Ramesh said, “Therefore, it seems that the official records are false and have been manipulated.”

He added, “Data submitted by independent agencies prove that all claims to meet the standards and provide effective facilities are in a mess and have gone down the drain.”

Ramesh was told that supply of drinking water in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa is much below than the expectations and far behind the national average.

He also reviewed the sanitation programmes in these states and asked the officials to speed up their performance.

Ramesh also pointed out that at least 4.58 crore rural households are yet to have access to sanitation facilities and his focus would mainly be on this aspect.

(JPN/Bureau)