Home Dehradun Mining Director Suresh Lawrence Patrick suspended just weeks before retirement

Mining Director Suresh Lawrence Patrick suspended just weeks before retirement

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By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 1 May: Director, Geology & Mining, of Uttarakhand, Suresh Lawrence Patrick, better known by his initials SL Patrick, has been suspended by the Uttarakhand Government with immediate effect, just weeks ahead of his retirement due at the end of June. It may be recalled that Patrick had recently made headlines when he had accused mining trader Om Prakash Tiwari of kidnapping and threatening him and also of demanding money. This news had made headlines but had raised several questions, too.

According to Patrick, he was acquainted with a mining trader by the name of Om Prakash Tiwari through another senior officer Laxman Singh, posted as Additional Secretary at the Secretariat. Patrick had alleged that, at the repeated requests of Tiwari, he (Patrick) had finally agreed to meet him at a guest house located in Ballupur. He was allegedly taken by Tiwari in his car to the guest house, where he was held hostage and extortion demands were made. This case was registered with Dehradun Cantt Police against Tiwari, who is a resident of Adarsh Vihar off Kargi Road. Patrick had further stated that Tiwari had met him several times to “seek information regarding tenders and the mining contracts”. After one such meeting, Tiwari drove him to a guest house in Ballupur on 9 April and allegedly held him hostage.

However, even when this news had made headlines, many questions were raised regarding the claim. It was considered highly unusual for an officer of the level of Director, Mining, to be held hostage.

Taking a serious view of the claims and after a reported internal inquiry, the government has, instead, ‘found’ Patrick to be guilty of violating the rules and the requirement of confidentiality and suspended him. During the suspension period, Patrick will remain attached with the office of Secretary, Mining. Interestingly, the suspension order has been issued by Additional Secretary Laxman Singh (through whom, Patrick had allegedly come in touch with Om Prakash Tiwari). In the suspension order, the Additional Secretary has claimed that allegations of serious nature were levelled against Patrick by an individual, Om Prakash Tiwari.

Also interesting is the fact that the suspension orders have been issued at the complaint of Om Prakash Tiwari who has been accused by Patrick of holding him hostage and demanding a ransom. In the allegations of corruption levelled against the officer, Tiwari reportedly has submitted details of a WhatsApp chat with Patrick. The suspension order further states that the state administration has also found that Patrick was not discharging his duties properly and had a habit of delaying official work. Patrick has also been charged with asking the Group D employees of the directorate to do his household work.

The suspension order further states that Patrick has been accused of favouring a private individual for government contracts and also states that Patrick has not been able to deny the allegations regarding the WhatsApp chat between him and Tiwari. The order also states that the WhatsApp chat clearly reflects Patrick’s collusion with a private person, breach of official secrecy and deliberate misuse of his position. The order says that the government officials are expected to discharge their duty with due confidentiality and responsibility. The failure to do so also tarnishes the image of the department and the government.

Patrick is also accused of demonstrating poor working ethics, an indifferent attitude and tendency to delay work related to E-tendering cum e-auction as well as other works of the department. The government also accused Patrick of not showing any interest in increasing the revenue collection but engaging in delaying approval of mining leases and thus causing revenue loss.

Patrick has also been accused of misusing his official duties and powers and using departmental government vehicles to carry out his personal work and that of his family members. Apart from this, Patrick is accused of employing Class IV employees (those who are either permanent government officials or appointed through outsourcing) posted in the Directorate for his domestic chores.

During the period of suspension, as per the provisions of Basic Rule 53 of Financial Collection Volume-2, Part 2 to 4, the amount of subsistence allowance equal to the amount of leave salary payable on half pay will be paid to Patrick in addition to dearness allowance on the amount of subsistence allowance. He will remain attached to the office of Secretary, Mining, during the period of suspension.

It may be recalled that allegations of corruption in the mining sector are nothing new. All the governments and top level officials related to mining have been regularly accused of high level corruption in the mining contracts. This issue actually needs a much more comprehensive and deeper inquiry if the government is really sincere about dealing with corruption in mining.