India’s poor pay Rs.9 bn in bribes for basic facilities

June 28th, 2008 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi, June 28 (IANS) India’s poor paid nearly Rs.9 billion in bribes over only three months to avail basic public utility services, a new study said Saturday. NGO Transparency International India (TII) found in its survey conducted between November 2007 and January 2008 that Rs.8.83 billion was paid as bribes by those living below the poverty line (BPL) to avail 11 types of services.

The survey found that the police department was the most corrupt, with two out of every five people seeking its help forced to pay bribes.

According to the survey conducted by the Centre for Media Studies and issued by TII, those involved in land records and registration services took the second spot in the list of bribe takers.

The ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) launched by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government is also plagued by corruption, it said.

Even though the ’school education up to Class 12′ was the least corrupt service, it was found that BPL households paid Rs.120 million in bribes to put their children to school.

“This kind of corruption that denies people their entitlement to basic and need based services, many of which may be ‘free’ by law, results in the poor finding themselves at the losing end of the corruption chain,” said TII chairman Admiral (retd.) R.H. Tahiliani.

“This increases disparity in income and deepens poverty,” he added.

For the poor who have no option but to go to government hospitals fo healthcare, the situation is disappointing.

“Almost four million BPL households had to bribe hospital staff to get services like getting admission in the hospital, getting a bed, diagnostic services and getting an OPD card,” the report said.

The total amount of bribe paid to the hospital staff by the poor in the last one year is estimated to be Rs.870 million.

Nearly one million households were denied hospital services simply because they either refused to pay bribes or could not afford to do so.

The study also revealed that 5.36 million BPL families had to pay bribe or use a contact to avail public distribution service (PDS) that is meant for them.

A majority pointed out that they bribed officials in order to get a ration card.

The survey further revealed that people have to bribe officials in order to get an electricity connection or to get faulty electricity meter rectified.

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