Bihar’s showpiece scheme “Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal” was started exactly five years ago by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to provide drinking water from tap to the poor at their homes. . It is touted as a very successful scheme and is claimed to have covered more than 95% of the target of 1.08 lakh panchayat wards. The English newspaper, after its four-month-long investigation, claimed that on the ground, the scheme benefited the poor less, the political people more, which undermines Nitish’s message of good governance.
According to the newspaper report, at the top of the list of beneficiaries of the scheme are the family members and associates of BJP Legislature Party leader and Deputy Chief Minister Tarkishore Prasad, who have got contracts worth more than Rs 53 crore under this scheme.
After this, the list also names the state-level leaders of the two ruling states, Janata Dal United (JDU) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). From all this, it is known that when it comes to implementing government schemes, then to what extent politics has penetrated even in the civil construction business here.
For Bihar’s “Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal” scheme, The Indian Express scrutinized bid documents for projects in 20 districts and recorded them maintained by the Registrar of Companies (RoC) and the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) of Bihar. matched with. PHED is the implementing authority of the scheme along with the Panchayati Raj and Urban Development departments of the state.
The paper also visited project sites where the contractors had political ties, spoke to several contractors involved in implementing the scheme on the ground, and interviewed beneficiaries in villages across the state.
Records show that in 2019-20, the PHED approved 36 projects under the drinking water scheme covering several wards in at least nine panchayats of Katihar district, from where Deputy CM Prasad has also been a four-time MLA. The two companies that were awarded the contract were related to Prasad’s daughter-in-law Pooja Kumari and her brother-in-law Pradeep Kumar Bhagat and close associates Prashant Chandra Jaiswal, Lalit Kishore Prasad and Santosh Kumar Bhagat.
In some cases, this family had a complete hold. Records show that in all the 13 wards of Bhavda Panchayat in Katihar, contracts were given to Pooja and Bhagat’s company. Not only this, officials related to the implementation of the scheme in Katihar said on the condition of anonymity that Kumari has no record of any work in this area.
When contacted by the newspaper, Prasad denied any political patronage to get these contracts and stated that he was the then Katihar MLA and became Deputy Chief Minister in November 2020.
Prasad, however, confirmed that his daughter-in-law has got the contract for four wards, but added that she had no direct links with two other companies, but her brother-in-law was a director of one of them.
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