Kiran Bedi Retracts Direction Linking Free Rice to Clean Villages

Bedi earlier said rice distribution would be halted by 31 May unless the villages were free of open-defecation.

2 min read
File photo of former IPS officer Kiran Bedi. 

Hours after coming under fire for having announced that villages in the Puducherry Union Territory would not be allowed to avail free rice unless they were declared free of open-defecation and garbage, Lt Governor Kiran Bedi said that her statement had been misread, and that she was "withholding her earlier communication".

In a fresh statement released on Saturday, 28 April, Bedi said:

The intention of my direction in linking rural Open Defecation and cleanliness with free rice distribution is NOT To DENY any poor persons of their entitlement, since I have already sanctioned and directed to provide quality food grains to needy families. The communication under comment is an expression of my serious intent and concern about addressing the root causes of health hazards in rural areas and compel performance of community and administrative leadership (sic).  

Adding that she was withholding her earlier communication, Bedi said that her administration was attempting to "compel performance" without denying or compromising the poor of their entitlement.

Bedi’s earlier announcement reportedly came after the former IPS Officer travelled to Puducherry’s Mannadipet village, and was reportedly distraught at the state of sanitation in the area.

As reported by The Indian Express, Bedi had released a statement instructing that the “distribution of the free rice 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”.

The report states that Bedi has set a deadline of four weeks for the villagers to become free of open defecation and garbage. If they failed to do so, the distribution of free rice would be halted from 31 May.

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 (sic).
Kiran Bedi in the press release, as reported by The Indian Express

“I am sure the community leaders including concerned public servants will take the lead in this transformation. I also urge the NABARD to support only NGO who has inbuilt waste management as integral part of its training programs (sic)”.

As reported by The Times of India, V Narayanasamy, Chief Minister of Puducherry has dismissed Bedi's order, calling it "unconstitutional".

Social Media Reacts

Bedi’s announcement garnered heavy criticism on social media:

(With inputs from The Indian Express and The Times of India)

(This copy has been updated to reflect Bedi’s clarification)

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