The scheme has so far covered around 95 per cent of its target of 1.08 lakh panchayat wards.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister and BJP leader Tarkishore Prasad’s kin and aides were awarded got a contract worth Rs 53 crore for implementing ‘Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal’ project, a flagship scheme of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, The Indian Express reported today. While the scheme has covered around 95 per cent of its target of 1.08 lakh panchayat wards, the IE investigation threw up some incidents of political patronage. The Dy CM has, however, said that there is nothing wrong in doing business and the contract was awarded when he was just an MLA, and not a minister.
As per the IE report, Tarkishore Prasad’s family members and close aides got project contracts worth over Rs 53 crore under the scheme. Not only this, several state-level leaders of the JD(U) and the BJP also received contracts indicating political patronage in implementing government schemes.
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The report revealed that Bihar’s Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) allotted 36 projects during 2019-20 to people and firms linked to the deputy CM. The project contracts were spread over several wards in at least nine panchayats of Katihar district. The contracts were awarded to his daughter-in-law Puja Kumari, two companies linked to his brother-in-law Pradeep Kumar Bhagat and close aides Prashant Chandra Jaiswal, Lalit Kishore Prasad and Santosh Kumar.
Officials involved in the implementation of the scheme informed on the condition of anonymity that Prasad’s daughter-in-law was awarded contracts worth Rs 1.6 crore covering four wards in the Bhavada panchayat of Katihar despite zero experience in the field. Kumari is registered as an individual contractor with PHED and has the same postal address as her father-in-law.
Dy CM Prasad, however, denied the allegation of political patronage and said that he was the Katihar MLA when the contracts were awarded and became Deputy Chief Minister in November 2020. While he confirmed that his daughter-in-law had got contracts for four wards, he denied having any links with other companies. “We are in business, should we not do it?…There are a total of 2,800 units in Katihar; my family has got just four. There’s nothing wrong with doing business. One must ensure that there should not be any irregularity,” he said. Prasad claimed that he is not even distantly connected to alleged companies – Deepkiran Infrastructure and Jeevanshree Infrastructure.