Many rural poor are upset over alleged corruption in getting houses under a central government scheme and a 30-year-old Dalit woman has threatened to set herself on fire if she does not get a home due to her.
Ramvati Devi, a resident of Begusarai district, has threatened to set herself on fire April 1 if she is not provided a house under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) before that. She says her name was in the 2008 waiting list of the scheme.
"I will set myself on fire to protest injustice. I am a victim of injustice and corruption in the scheme.
"I have informed the block official that my name was in the waiting list of 2008 but I have been deprived of a house till date. I have petitioned the block development officer that I will immolate if not provided a house before April 1," Ramvati told IANS.
Bihar Rural Development Minister Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha admitted to corruption in IAY scheme and said the state government had taken steps to weed out corruption.
"There is no doubt that there is corruption in the scheme. We are taking the necessary preventive steps," Kushwaha told IANS.
He said as against the target of construction of houses under IAY at an estimated cost of Rs 2,120.50 crore during 2008-09, a total of 4.68 lakh houses were constructed for the below poverty line (BPL) families which was 77.31 percent of the target.
Ramvati also accused village body head Runa Devi of demanding bribes for a house under the scheme.
"I gave Rs 3,000 to Renu Devi in 2008. But she and her husband Hira Sahni demanded Rs 3,000 more. I refused to pay, as I did not have money. After I refused to give more bribe to Renu Devi, my dream of a house remains a dream," she said.
Ramvati Devi's fight has exposed the rampant corruption in the execution of IAY in the state. "Corruption rules the roots in IAY scheme in Bihar. Poor people are badly hit by it," Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) state president Abdul bari Siddiqui said.
Siddiqui, a senior legislator, said local officials and village body heads demand money from poor for a house under IAY. "Despite knowing it, the state government has not initiated any step to check corruption and punish officials and village body heads for it."
Three days ago, Bihar Assembly witnessed uproarious scenes with the opposition alleged corruption in the execution of IAY and staged a walkout.