This farmer exposed tubewell scam in Bihar | india | Hindustan Times
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This farmer exposed tubewell scam in Bihar

The RTI Act is his weapon against corruption in Bihar. Since 2005, Shiv Prakash —a farmer — has unearthed information for the benefit of farmers in Sarinja village in Buxar district.

india Updated: Aug 18, 2011 00:07 IST

The RTI Act is his weapon against corruption in Bihar. Since 2005, Shiv Prakash —a farmer — has unearthed information for the benefit of farmers in Sarinja village in Buxar district.

Prakash blew the whistle on a tubewell scam. The Centre offers a 35% subsidy to poor farmers for the purchase of hand pumps and installation of tubewells. Through RTI documents, Prakash found huge anomalies in the claims of the local administration.

"They had listed 1,000 tubewells bought from shops which did not exist." In his district alone, Prakash estimates the fraud to be to the tune of Rs 10 crore.

In 2006, Prakash asked the Buxar DM office for the list of people who had availed of the Sikhsit Berozgar Yojna (a scheme for educated jobless youth) and bought tubewells and handpumps with government subsidy. "I had a hunch that crores of money had been taken out from the government funds in the name of non-existent people," says he. He got no response.

He approached the Bihar Information Commission. The commission acted upon his complaints and asked the DM for an explanation. In February 2008, the DM called Prakash to his office and "the DM gave me nine pieces of blank paper. He forced me to write that I had received the information I had asked for," he says. When he protested, threats began and he was thrown in the lock-up. An FIR was lodged saying that Prakash had tried to kill the DM. After 29 days behind bars, Prakash was let off due to lack of evidence. Prakash is educating villagers about the power of the RTI.