Friday, 26 August 2011

Bihar's new tool to fight corruption - YouTube

By Imran Khan - - - - Patna, Aug 26 (IANS) Bihar, for years a metaphor for backwardness, will now harness modern communiction tools to nail corruption.

It will expose officials seeking bribes in welfare schemes by uploading clips of complaints against them on the video-sharing website YouTube.

  "The state government has decided to use YouTube as a new tool to expose corrupt and bribe-seekers," Bihar Rural Development Minister Nitish Mishra told IANS as graft becomes a nationwide concern, particularly with the anti-corruption crusade by Anna Hazare in New Delhi.
 To begin with, officials seeking bribes from the poorest of the poor for the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) will be targeted. The scheme aims to provide housing for the poor.
 "Use of latest technology like YouTube is probably the first of its kind in the country to fight corruption in government welfare schemes, particularly the IAY in Bihar," said A. Santosh Matthew, rural development department principal secretary.
 For the first time in Bihar, nearly one million people living below poverty line will be given the first instalment of money under IAY for construction of houses Saturday at statewide camps organised by the government in all 534 blocks.
 The state government has directed all district officials to make arrangements to record video of complaints of all beneficiaries of IAY at the camps.
 "We have asked officials to set up three counters in every camp, where beneficiaries will lodge written complaints against officials who may have demanded bribes and delayed work," Mishra told IANS.
 "Everything will be recorded and soon uploaded on YouTube to expose corrupt officials and end the involvement of middlemen," he added.
 The minister said any complaints from beneficiaries would be verified and then uploaded on the video-sharing website. "It will be a big embarrassment and bad publicity for the officials."
 The move follows increasing complaints by villagers about officials asking for bribes to get things done with respect to the IAY in the state.
 Even top government officials have admitted that the poorest of the poor have to pay bribes to officials to get the benefit of this housing scheme. Those who have no money to pay bribes don't get the benefit.
 Hundreds of angry villagers blocked a road in Aurangabad district to protest corruption in the IAY scheme that forced a poor Mahadalit to suicide after setting afire his family  early this week.
 Rambachan Rajvansi, a Mahadalit in his early 30s, poured kerosene and set his wife and three children on fire before killing himself Monday in Mujhar village of Aurangabad, about 100 km from here.
 According to police, the family was upset after money allotted to them under the IAY was fraudulently taken away by a middleman. The scheme aims to provide housing for the rural poor.
 The central government has sanctioned over Rs.3,000 crore to the state for IAY houses this year. The state government has a target of 737,486 IAY houses for people below the poverty line.

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