Bihar legislators milk the state, by rail
By Ajay Kumar - PATNA
Published: 09th Dec 2012 10:20:33 AM
As the Indian Railways keep failing to complete its pending projects often due to lack of funding—the railways require Rs 147,000 crore for the pending works—legislators of Bihar have been making money using the railways’ name. The modus operandi of these legislators, across political divides, have been simple—to claim money for long-distance travels, sometimes thrice to different directions, on a single day. According to the Principal Accountant General (PAG) audit, between March 20019 and March 2012, at least 54 members of the Bihar Assembly and Legislative Council allegedly fudged their travel bills—the Railway Travel Coupons (RTC). On 142 occasions, the legislators made such allegedly fraudulent claims, says the report.
The audit throws up startling facts. One legislator produced bills that showed travel from state capital Patna to Delhi twice and Patna to Kishanganj on the same day. One MLA showed he had travelled from Patna to Azam Nagar Road, Patna to New Delhi and New Delhi to Patna on February 15, 2010. Yet another legislator allegedly claimed that he travelled on train in three different directions on the same day. Despite Forbesganj being over 300 km from Patna, one legislator claimed he had travelled from Patna to Forbesganj, Forbesganj to Patna and again Patna to Forbesganj on November 17, 2010, the day on which Bihar Assembly elections were on. The legislators even availed of ‘stay allowances’ in spite of claiming that they were out of Patna. In all, the legislators produced details of 3,598 trips between April 2009 and March 2012, and claimed stay allowance 3,123 times.
Bihar has 243 members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and 75 members of Legislative Council (MLCs). An MLA or MLC gets RTCs of `1.5 lakh in a year each to travel in AC First Class along with a co-traveller. The Audit Report said RTCs worth `10.81 crore were issued to 402 members between April 2006 and March 2012, out of which `46.02 lakh was spent on co-travellers. Incidentally, most of the legislators who made such claims belong to the ruling Janata Dal (United)-BJP alliance. However, MLAs and MLCs from the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress are also prominent in the list.