Poverty rising in Bihar: BJP MP's survey


Patna, Sep 15 (IANS) If one were to go by a sample survey done by a BJP MP in Bihar, the number of poor in the state has gone up by five million since Nitish Kumar became chief minister in 2005 with some of the flagship welfare schemes failing to make an impact.

Uday Singh also says that there is widespread corruption in the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) in Bihar. These are part of his findings for which the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Purnia carried out a survey of over 210,000 households out of the total 350,000 in his constituency. His party is part of the ruling coalition in the state.

Singh says the survey was conducted to demonstrate the impracticality of some of the welfare schemes. And if the report is true for Purnia, it can't be different for the rest of the state, he adds.

"Coverage of beneficiaries under flagship social welfare schemes such as MGNREGS and ICDS remains acutely low. More shocking is that only 13 percent of households - in a region where over 80 percent of households are dependent on casual labour for livelihood - have reported getting work under MGNREGS," the second-time MP said.

According to the survey report, made available to IANS, the estimated losses to households that were not given work amounts to approximately Rs. 40 crore.

Further, since only 50 percent got paid full amount, leakages due to underpayment can be estimated at Rs.12 crore.

There might have been more losses due to overreporting of worker-days and ghost entries in the muster rolls, Singh says.

The report says that lack of accountability and transparency across the administrative chain have spawned a huge surface area for petty corruption involving middlemen.

The survey was carried out by Purnia Lok Sabha Vikas Parishad (PLSVP), an NGO headed by Singh.

"There is a high degree of misappropriation of funds directly flowing to PRIs," Singh says quoting the report.

According to him, the survey was without parallel or precedent in that it combined the rigour and reach of the decadal Census with the complexity and depth of the quinquennial NSSO rounds.

Even schemes designed for emancipation of weaker sections of society such as Mahadalits, minorities and BPL households seem to exist only on paper, he says.

According to the MP, liquor shops have come up in each village, leading to acute alcoholism even as there was shortage of teachers in schools.

Singh says that the public health system was in a bad shape.

On key governance indicators, 39 percent of households ranked electrification as number one priority followed by roads and education.




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