Amidst complaints of corruption, there has been an allegation of giving a contract worth 53 crores to the relatives of senior BJP leader Tarkishore Prasad in the Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal Yojana in Bihar. Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav has demanded immediate action. Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal Yojana is one of the ambitious seven decision plan of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in Bihar. The ruling Janata Dal-U had contested the last assembly elections by making all these schemes an issue. Under this scheme, started about five years ago, a target was made to supply drinking water through pipeline to every household in more than one lakh panchayat wards of the state. The state government claims that 95 percent of the work has been completed under this. As sensitive as the Nitish government is about the implementation of this scheme, complaints of corruption have also come to the fore in almost the same proportion. This plan is once again in discussion with the latest report of the Indian Express, 36 projects handed over to relatives. In the investigation conducted in 20 districts of the state including Katihar with reference to the contractors of this scheme, it has come to the fore that the daughter-in-law of Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad, Pooja Kumari, her brother-in-law Pradeep Kumar Bhagat and other close friends Santosh Kumar, Prashant Chandra Jaiswal and Lalit Kishor Prasad was given a contract of 53 crores under the Nal Jal Yojana. In Katihar district, 36 projects were handed over to the relatives of Deputy CM Tarkishore Prasad under the Nal Jal Yojana in 2019-20 by the Public Engineering Department (PHED). Tarkishore Prasad has been elected MLA from Katihar for the fourth time in a row. In a response given to the newspaper, Tarkishore Prasad has said that these contracts were awarded when he was an MLA. There has been no irregularity in these. He did not deny that the contract was given to his daughter-in-law, but denied any connection with the companies of his brother-in-law Pradeep Kumar Bhagat. He said that he became the Deputy Chief Minister in November 2020.
There is no direct affiliation with the companies. Then there is nothing wrong in doing business. Tarkishore Prasad’s address is also recorded in JB Niketan, Mirchawadi Chowk, Gerabari Road, Katihar in the papers handed over by Pooja Kumari to daughter-in-law in connection with the contract of one crore sixty lakhs. Subodh Shankar, Executive Engineer, PHED in Katihar from June 2016 to June 2021, has approved a contract worth one crore sixty lakhs in four wards of Bhavda Panchayat, located ten kilometers from the city. According to Subodh Shankar, Pooja Kumari has completed the work and 63 percent of the amount has been paid to her. When the team of the English newspaper reached that ward, people complained of large scale disturbances in the work. On the other hand, Sanjay Mandal, pump operator of ward number four of Bhawda panchayat and Rajendra Jha, pump operator of ward number ten, told the team that they were hired by Pradeep Kumar Bhagat. It is through him that he has become an operator and reports to Bhagat only. Pooja Kumari got the work of both these wards but she never came to the site and Pradeep Kumar Bhagat got the work done. At the same time, Subodh Shankar, who is currently the Executive Engineer of PHED in Katihar, posted in Araria district, says that the contracts awarded to Pooja Kumari, Deepkiran and Jeevanshree Infrastructure in 2019-20 during my working period are completely correct and the contracts are following the entire process. have been given. Brother-in-law has got the contract of work of three crore sixty lakh rupees in nine out of 13 wards of Bhavda Panchayat, whose director is Pradeep Kumar Bhagat, brother-in-law of Deputy CM and his wife (Salhaj) Kiran Bhagat. Pradeep’s company has been given three contracts for the work of Nal Jal Yojana in nine wards. According to him, the government has paid him one crore 80 lakhs so far. However, work is yet to be completed at many levels.
The people of these wards also complained to the team of the newspaper about irregularities in the work. Under the Nal Jal Yojna in 110 wards of nine panchayats of Katihar, a contract worth 48 crores was given to Jeevanshree Infrastructure Pvt Ltd. Its three directors are Prashant Chandra Jaiswal, Santosh Kumar and Lalit Kishore Prasad. In which two are said to be relatives of the Deputy CM. It has also been learned that Pradeep Kumar Bhagat, brother-in-law of Tarkishore Prasad, is also getting the work of this company done on the site. The pump operator of ward number eight (where the work has been given to Jeevanshree) of this panchayat also told that Pradeep Kumar Bhagat pays him three thousand rupees per month for the work. In a conversation with the newspaper, Prashant Chandra Jaiswal admitted that he is associated with the Deputy CM, while Lalit Kishor Prasad denied any direct association with him. Jeevanshree’s employee Bablu Gupta told the team that this company used to do real estate work earlier. Shravan Kumar, Minister of Rural Development Department of Bihar Government said, “He is not aware of this. If any complaint comes, it will be investigated” Deputy Minister When the Indian Express team asked the state PHED minister Rampreet Paswan regarding the award of contracts to relatives as CM, he denied any such information. On the other hand, PHED department secretary Jitendra Srivastava said that the rules and procedure are followed in awarding the contract in the department. He has not received complaints of interference from politicians in the award of contracts. If there is any complaint, it will be investigated. Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav said that he has enough evidence against Tarkishore Prasad, which he will make public when the time comes.
Government should take immediate action. On the other hand, Congress spokesperson Asit Nath Tiwari said that the day the contract lease allotment will be investigated, it will become clear to what extent corruption is spread in Bihar. The Nal-Jal scheme has been under the purview of corruption, complaints of corruption have become common in this ambitious scheme of the government. The government has also been getting information about this on various forums. The scam is that in many places, the tank got grounded as soon as the water was filled for the first time. In ward number one of Ghorha village of Bhopatpur panchayat of Barun block of Aurangabad district, the tank fell after filling water for the first time. A similar incident happened in ward number nine of Dariyapur Panchayat under Mokama block of Patna district. In the Rambagh area of ward number 41 of Muzaffarpur Municipal Corporation, the under construction structure itself collapsed. Even the water tank in Paki village under Silao block of Nalanda, the home district of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, collapsed as soon as the water was filled. An official of the PHED department, on the condition of anonymity, says, “The situation of the scam in this scheme will also be similar to that of the solar scheme. Just like the case was registered against almost all the heads of the state, in the same way, the investigation should be done with complete transparency. So no one will be left even in the Nal Jal Yojana.” Perhaps this is the reason why FIR has been lodged against many contractors, supervisors and panchayat secretaries in the state on charges of corruption. At the same time, the government has included the Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal Yojana under the Bihar Right to Public Services Act for the purpose of redressing the complaints within a stipulated time period. It is difficult to say whether drinking water could reach the homes of the poor, but it is certain that the houses of politicians were definitely filled with misuse of public money.