The state of Solar lights in Bihar revealed under RTI
On the orders of the State Information Commission (SIC) of Bihar, an inquiry was conducted by the Saran DM in Kakarhat panchayat under Daryapur block. The enquiry revealed several irregularities in the seven villages of the panchayat where solar lights had been installed at a cost of Rs 17.17 lakh, with each solar light costing Rs 39,500. On a plea by RTI activist Nand Kishore Sharma, an enquiry was ordered by the Information Commissioner Farzand Ahmed.
In reply to an application filed under the RTI Act, the BDO of Daryapur block informed that there was no irregularity in installation of solar lights and everything was in order. The appellant found the reply unsatisfactory and filed an appeal. On second appeal to the SIC, the Information Commissioner directed the Saran DM to conduct an inquiry in the entire district. As a case study, the DM ordered inquiry in one panchayat and its report found most of the solar lights were non-functional, batteries were being used for personal work and even if any solar light was working, it was installed at someone's house.
In villages across the state, funds to install solar lights had been provided under the Backward Region Grant Fund. In a power-starved state, this facility was meant to light up villages, but corruption at local level frustrated the very purpose of the scheme.
There are more than 8,000 panchayats in the state where funds to install solar lights had been provided under the Backward Region Grant Fund.