Recipients of Bihar’s water supply program span the political spectrum, report says
New Delhi: Successive reports following a four-month investigation by Indian express revealed that companies associated with relatives and collaborators of top political leaders – from the ruling Janata Dal (United) and Bharatiya Janata Party to the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress – have won contracts worth millions dollars under Bihar’s flagship program ‘Har Ghar Nal ka Jal’.
This has been the case in at least 20 districts of the state.
Bihar’s flagship program received praise from several quarters and was able to achieve 1.08 lakh panchayat in the state with clean drinking water, according to reports. Over the past five years, he has been able to achieve 95% of the initially planned target.
The project has now become an example of how political patronage permeates the civil construction sector in the state.
Topping the list is Deputy Chief State Minister Tarkishore Prasad. Among the contracts awarded is Prasad’s daughter-in-law. In addition, two firms, one linked to his brother-in-law and the other to three of his collaborators, are involved. In total, those associated with Prasad have obtained contracts worth Rs 53 crore.
Asked about political patronage, Prasad said Express, “There is nothing wrong with doing business” and that he wasn’t even chief deputy when the contracts were awarded and he was just an MP. Prasad was appointed Chief Deputy Minister in November 2020.
In accordance with the standards, these contracts should have been awarded by competitive bidding. Companies that have worked in the field of civil construction on the basis of experience and the amount offered, among other criteria, are awarded contracts. However, it appeared that in Prasad’s case, his stepdaughter got the contract despite having no record of fieldwork.
Another key leader on the list is Anil Singh, former secretary of state for JD (U). Businesses associated with his family have been awarded contracts worth Rs 80 crore. Anil Singh is a key leader in state policy and participates in all major functions attended by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
BJP MP Vinod Narayan Jha was also on the list. His nephew was awarded contracts worth Rs 3.5 crore in 2019-2020 when his uncle was Minister of the PHED (Public Health Engineering Department).
The project is supervised by PHED, and each contract is worth Rs 30-57 lakh. As per the guidelines, contractors receive 60-65% of the money while work is still in progress and the remaining 35-40% equally for maintenance over a five-year period.
Under each contract, a contractor is responsible for designing two plastic tanks of 5,000 liters each on a tower and pumping them with water from a borehole, which must be maintained by the operator of the l ‘business. Then this is followed by supplying water through a pipe to a brass faucet at a location closest to the entrance of a house, in each neighborhood.
Some of the other top political leaders and whose parents and associates have been awarded contracts are
- Deepak Kumar, senior executive of JDU: A company, Khushi Constructions, of which he and his relatives sit on the board of directors as partners, has won contracts in 900 constituencies. Initially he was awarded contracts worth Rs 80 crore. However, the company then got bogged down in a court case and has since been blacklisted.
- Rajiv Kamal aka Rinku Singh, Secretary General of the State of RJD: As a registered entrepreneur, Kamal was awarded contracts worth 4.5 crore rupees. He got three sets of contracts at Jamui.
- Rajan Tiwari, BJP spokesperson: Jai Sri Shyam Construction, owned by Tiwari, won contracts in 28 neighborhoods worth Rs 17 crore.
- Manoj Gupta, former State Coordinator, BJP Trade Cell: RM Constructions, linked to Gupta, won 12 sets of contracts worth Rs 23 crore.
- Dharmendra Kumar Sah, president of the EBC wing of JD (U), Samastipur: Sah was awarded two rounds of contracts worth Rs 4 crore.
- Ahmed Akhtar, Congress, Bagaha: Akhtar won contracts worth Rs 85 lakh in two districts in 2019-2020. Akhtar said he worked for JP Enterprises, which is owned by local resident Janardhan Prasad.
In addition to these leaders, there are many others who have received contracts worth between Rs 35 lakh and a few crores.