By Giridhar Jha
A NEWSPAPER hawker is running from pillar to post for payment of his outstanding dues amounting to Rs 2.34 lakh from the Bihar government.
Ram Talevar Bhagat, a resident of Hardinge Road in Patna, has been delivering newspapers to the residences of various ministers for many years, but the government departments are yet to clear his dues.
Part of the dues, in fact, dates back to the days of the RJD regime between 2001 and 2003.
"Different departments owe altogether Rs 2,34,787 to me for the newspapers delivered over the years to the doorsteps of successive ministers in Bihar," he claimed. "This has caused a lot of financial hardship to me and brought my family to the brink of starvation."
Bhagat said he had earlier moved many departments to know the fate of his outstanding bills under the Right to Information Act but that too did not help matters.
"Most of the departments have replied that they were awaiting funds to clear my dues," he added.
According to Bhagat, among those whose newspaper bills are yet to be cleared are Ramchandra Sahni (BJP), Vishwamohan Kumar (JD- U), Dinesh Prasad (JD- U), Ajit Singh (JD- U), R. N. Singh (JD- U), Damodar Raut (JD- U), Chandra Mohan Rai (BJP) and Renu Devi (BJP) who have all been ministers in the Nitish Kumar government. Raut is still a minister.
The list also includes a few former RJD ministers.
Bhagat said the maximum dues of Rs 46,530 were outstanding against the minor irrigation department. "Each minister in the state is entitled to newspapers worth Rs 800 per month which is paid to the hawkers by their respective departments.
But in my case the newspaper fund was probably diverted to other heads," he said.
The 42- year- old hawker said government departments were now clearing his current bills regularly but had not taken any step to pay his arrears.
"I had kept on providing the newspapers to the ministers hoping that my bills would be cleared later on. But that day did not come."
Bhagat said he had now submitted a petition to the Governor, chief minister, chief secretary and the parliamentary affairs minister seeking their intervention in settling his dues.
"Along with my petition, I have submitted the list of former ministers I supplied newspapers to," he said.
In his application to the Governor, he said he had submitted all the bills to the concerned departments after getting them verified by the private secretaries of each minister but to no avail.
"As a result of nonpayment, I'm neck- deep in debt and facing acute financial crunch now," he said.
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.
By Giridhar Jha