COVID-19 Funds Being Used For Drinks, Cigarettes In Bihar?
Report finds village leaders dipping into funds earmarked for distribution of masks and soaps.
A shocking development has come forth from the state of Bihar where a sting operation has exposed how funds directed towards COVID-19 care are being slyly diverted towards the pockets of village leaders. A panchayat head from a village in Muzaffarpur can be heard saying that he used up surplus funds saved from procuring substandard masks and soaps to buy meat, alcohol and cigarettes for the Block Development Officer (BDO).
Each rural family in Bihar is entitled to four masks worth Rs 80 and one big bar of soap worth Rs 20 each. The state government has asked panchayats to procure the materials only from self-help groups, the State Khadi Board or local artisans with an aim of boosting rural economy. No direct purchase from open markets is allowed. But several leaders are purchasing the materials from private entities in exchange of commissions. Village leaders are purchasing masks for just Rs 4 each and soap bars for Rs 8 each and pocketing the rest of the money.
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