By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 3 Jul: Taking a cue from the Union Government’s initiative, the Uttarakhand Government too has decided to compulsorily retire state government officers believed to be corrupt or inefficient. The Centre ostensibly is aiming at rooting out corruption and inefficiency by regularly doing so and, already, more than 50 officers including some senior IAS and IRS officers have been retired in the past one month. In fact, UP has already taken a big lead in this and has decided to compulsorily retire 600 such officers. Highly placed sources in the state bureaucracy in Uttarakhand however claim that the Trivendra Singh Rawat Government is not going to find it easy to do so. In Uttarakhand, however, according to some senior bureaucrats, no government including the present one will have the courage to list senior officers with an image of being corrupt or inefficient and compulsorily retire them. Instead, some junior ranking or middle level officers may find themselves at the receiving end of such a decision.
Sources point out that corruption is deep rooted in various departments of the state government as well as in district level officials across the state but many of the ‘corrupt and inefficient officers’ hold a big sway in the state’s polity which is bound to make it very difficult for the government in power to take strict action. Sources claim that the excise, revenue, police, engineering, power and the transport departments are among the most corrupt in Uttarakhand and until the senior level corrupt officers from there are dismissed, it is not going to make any difference in the level of corruption.
Sources add that in a large number of cases, where departmental or magisterial inquiries had been ordered against many corrupt officers of various departments, from time to time, no action had been taken against them. Interestingly, in many cases, even the inquiries were not conducted despite such orders.
Sources cite the ongoing case of the NH 74 Scam as a living example of lack of will on the part of the government to take the case to its logical end and punish the guilty.
One very senior bureaucrat claimed before this correspondent that in many cases including the NH 74 scam, politicians too had been beneficiaries of corruption and this fact was a big deterrent against taking action on the cases. In the NH 74 case, some senior bureaucrats, though named, had never been arrested while the junior bureaucrats, who had been arrested, too had been granted bail without the Police being able to elicit much information related to the case. Their suspension too had been revoked on court orders. He also pointed out the recent case related to robbing a businessman of legal money by some police personnel. He reminded that though some arrests had been made in the case, investigation was still underway in spite of it being an open and shut case. The Police Department, too, is reluctant for reasons best known to it to take the case to its logical end.
Sources point out that the one of the most inefficient and corrupt section of government officials in Uttarakhand is the Secretariat cadre. This is one cadre that has been the greatest beneficiary of the state’s formation. Many of the Additional Secretaries, Joint Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries and even Under Secretaries would have still been serving as clerical grade employees in undivided UP. These officials have managed promotion after promotion in the past 18 years of Uttarakhand’s existence. Sources in the bureaucracy claim that many of these officials who have now risen to high ranking officers in the secretariat, are still not adept at notings and have to be guided in this basic responsibility by their senior officers (the bureaucrats). Even so, these officials openly charge money to move the files. According to the sources in the government, the CM has directed the bureaucracy to identify and list ‘corrupt and inefficient’ officers of age 50 or higher in the Secretariat, but the bigger question is whether such a list will ever be prepared in earnest and action really taken. The sources remind that the Secretariat cadre unions are highly influential and often have managed to get almost all their demands fulfilled by the government without much struggle and even the senior level bureaucrats are highly reluctant to take them to task for their wrong doings.
One bureaucrat claimed that urban development authorities in the state were full of corrupt and inefficient officers and he pointed out that some of the bureaucrats now posted at the Secretariat had in the past headed some urban local bodies and made good money. If corruption had to be rooted out, a list of corrupt or inefficient officers from District Urban Development Authorities like MDDA ought to be prepared on a priority basis. He pointed out that a list of corrupt officers from Revenue, Irrigation, Minor Irrigation, Power, Mining and PWD also ought to be prepared and further action taken. Transfer and posting of officers from these departments had been a good source of extra income for the politicians, he claimed.
The Police Department has a long list of officers of middle ranking officers with a corrupt image but many of these officers continue to hold prime postings, a senior police officer told Garhwal Post. Lack of the will to really take strict action against these police officers is visible in the way the Uttarakhand Police Complaints Authority functions. So far, sources claim, no serious action is ever taken on complaints received from people by the authority. Notices are issued, some minor measures are taken and that is all.
The Revenue Department ranks among the most corrupt in the state. Sources in the department claim that, if a list of corrupt officers in the revenue department was prepared in full earnest, it would include a significant section of the revenue officials from ADMs, SDMs at the top to Tehsildars and Patwaris at the lower level. They say that the government lacks the will to prepare a long list of corrupt revenue officers.
Excise is another department full of corrupt officers of age 50 and above, sources claim, and they have regularly manipulated excise policies and their implementation resulting in direct losses to the state’s exchequer. Yet, the most corrupt among them still manage to get creamy postings.
It is learnt that the CM has directed the Chief Secretary to ensure such lists of corrupt and inefficient officers are prepared so that the government could consider action against them.
Sources in the BJP and Congress however claim that the state government is forced by current circumstances to start such an action but it would find it most difficult to retire corrupt PCS and secretariat cadre officers and to list corrupt IAS officers and seek permission from the Department of Personnel & Training of the Union Government for their retirement. They further claim that the Janata Durbar too has been restarted by the CM only because other states have also done so and also because the PM has directed union ministers too to hold Janata Durbars.