Wednesday, 21 September 2016

ACB probing irregularities in irrigation project contracts: Maharashtra Minister "The matter is being investigated by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) as the contractor has been charged with irregularity." said Girish Mahajan.

The Indian Express d. 31/8/16
After the Maharashtra government scrapped several irrigation project contracts, the state’s Irrigation Minister, Girish Mahajan, has confirmed that the matter is being investigated.
“The matter is being investigated by the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) as the contractor has been charged with irregularity. He has even been sent to jail and an FIR has been lodged against him,” Mahajan told ANI Wednesday.
Mahajan said project work has been stopped and the cabinet has decided to scrap it till a decision is made within the next two to three days, he added.
“We will give the projects to new contractors and they come on a time-bound basis. Whoever is involved in this matter will not be spared,” he said.
The Maharashtra Government has scrapped irrigation contracts worth Rs. 6,000 crores that were sanctioned by the Congress-NCP alliance when they were in power. These include as many as 300 projects currently under probe. Former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar is under the scanner for sanctioning some of these projects.
The Maharashtra government has decided to scrape 12 irrigation projects in the Konkan region, 81 in the Gosikhurd region and 94 in the Nasik region. The total amount allotted for these project is an estimated Rs. 3,995 crores.

Tamil Nadu: Boy begs to pay bribe to officer after father's death

Deccan Chronicle d. 28/8/16
Chennai: A 15-year-old boy from Tamil Nadu has shamed district administration officials in Tamil Nadu by begging in public places to pay off a bribe.
According to NDTV, trouble began when 45-year-old Kolanji of M Kunnathoor village in Villupuram district died in February last year.
His 15-year-old son Ajit had to wait for a over a year to collect a state compensation of Rs 12,500 under farmers' social security scheme. But the village administrative officer allegedly asked Ajit for a bribe of Rs 3,000 in order to pay him the compensation.
But since Ajit could not pay the money, he created a banner asking for help to collect money to pay the bribe, said the report. The banner, written in Tamil, reads that he is in no position to repay the money borrowed for his father's last rites and he has been asked to pay Rs. 3,000 as bribe by the M. Kunnathoor village administrative officer. He began to beg inside buses and other public places in order to collect the money.
An embarrassed district administration ordered a probe on Saturday. The officer, VAO Subramanian, has been relieved from his post pending inquiry. Subramanian has denied the charge of demanding a bribe.

Corruption case registered against DCW Chief Swati Maliwal d. 20/9/16
The Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi government on Tuesday filed a case against Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Chief Swati Maliwal.
Reports quoted ACB chief Mukesh Kumar Meena confirming the registration of an FIR against Swati Maliwal.
As per reports, Maliwal was booked was booked under Sections 13 (Criminal misconduct by a public servant) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 409 (Criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on late Monday night.
arlier on ACB had questioned Maliwal for over two hours. Further investigation is on.
Responding to the development Swati Maliwal tweeted that she would end her life if anyone proves corruption worth a single rupee in her entire life.

Five arrested for chopping MGNREGA officer's hand

The Times of India Bengaluru d. 19/9/16
BENGALURU: Nearly a week after the horrific incident, five contractors were arrested for chopping the right hand of an honest officer for refusing to clear inflated bills.

On September 15, The Times of India reported about HR Srinivas, who is a technical consultant engineer for implementing the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA), and how he paid a price for his honesty.
On Sunday, Kudur police confirmed the arrests of Channakeshava, Lakshmana, Manjunath, Punith Chamanna, all aged between 21 and 31 years. They have been slapped with IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) , 34 (common intention of committing a crime). 
The angry contractors had tried in every possible way to get the inflated bills passed, but when they saw 53-year-old Srinivas refusing to toe their line, they attacked him and chopped off his right hand with a machete when he was on his way home. Srinivas was admitted to a hospital in Basaveshwaranagar, Bengaluru, before he was discharged three days ago.
ppointed to Kunigal taluk in T umakuru district, Srinivas discover ed some illegalities in the MGNREGA scheme, and when he tried to raise his voice against them, he paid a heavy price. Srinivas's job was to give technical sanctions to the works undertaken and to check measurements. He's the h ead of a team of five engineers and it's his finding which determines how much the contractors are paid, based on their quality of work.
One of the accused, Channa Keshava, had barged into the taluk office and warned Srinivas of dire consequences if he reduced the amount. Srinivas told him that he used poor-quality construction materials and didn't deserve the estimated amount. Channa Keshava threatened him and said: "I'll chop off your hand if you sign the modified bill." Undeterred, Srinivas and his senior decided to go by the rulebook. 

Vigilance officers deployed to fight corruption in govt departments

Times of India Bengaluru d. 19/9/16
BENGALURU: Karnataka has entered the league of states where a full-fledged anti-corruption mechanism is in place to keep tabs on corrupt bureaucrats in the state administration.

After dilly-dallying for months, the Karnataka government has appointed chief vigilance officers (CVOs) who are deputy secretary/ joint secretary rank officers in all major government departments. "The CVO post has been given to officers next in seniority to the head in every government department, other than principal secretaries and secretaries, to ensure surveillance on corruption and initiate action against employees as recommended by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) or Lokayukta,'' said Pallavi Akurathi, deputy secretary, department of personnel and administrative reforms.
Separate CVOs are being appointed for public utilities in the energy, public works, rural development and panchayat raj departments. "Earlier, there was no anti-corruption mechanism in the engineering and construction sections where there are complaints of corruption at every step,'' official sources added. Akurathi said the government will soon take steps to appoint CVOs in the commissionerates and directorates of all government departments and, later, in all district offices. "Right now, there's shortage of staff to set up full-fledged vigilance cells. The CVO will be tasked with the job of strengthening the vigilance cell with fresh recruitments over the new few years,'' Akurathi said. 
The CVOs, however, will have no powers to act independently against officials. Citing the guidelines set for CVOs, a senior ACB officer said that CVOs cannot initiate suo motu action against graft complaints or about disproportionate assets against public servants. "After a complaint is filed against a government employee, the ACB or Lokayukta will act independently and confidentially, including collecting information and verification with the help of CVOs. It's the duty of CVOs to take action against dereliction in duty and corruption as recommended by ACB or Lokayukta. Till now, the department's prior approval was required for even that. Now, the ACB on its own can collect and verify cases with the help of CVOs, who is duty-bound to provide information within 15 days," he added.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Middlemen chop honest officer's hand for not clearing fake bills

New Indian Express dated 16/9/2016
BENGALURU: His right forearm swathed in bandages, H R Srinivas is unfazed. “I have been in service for over 25 years and have worked honestly. I have another seven years to go but nothing will stop me from continuing to work without fear,” says the engineer with Kunigal taluk panchayat in Tumakuru, who suffered a brutal attack on Monday night for refusing to clear inflated bills.
Two men on a bike attacked him with a machete, chopping his forearm, when he was on his way to his residence in Magadi from Kunigal.
 Srinivas, who as technical consultant with the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department  oversees implementation of job schemes of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) in Kunigal, was being threatened by the middlemen for not clearing their bills.
Doctors have said he may not feel sensation in three fingers of his right hand. He has been asked to take a month’s rest. “I have been working in Kunigal for the past three years and will continue to work there,” he says.
RDPR Minister H K Patil and other senior officials visited Srinivas. On his family’s insistence, Srinivas has shifted to his sister’s house in RT Nagar for the sake of safety. Minister Patil said, “The department will bear the medical expenses of Srinivas and we are committed to protect the officials of the department. I have also directed police to nab the accused at the earliest.”
Corruption has been rampant in the MGNREGA job schemes. Kunigal MLA Nagarajaiah said the purpose of the scheme has been to provide direct jobs to workers but middlemen continue to
hrive by inflating bills and misappropriating funds.
Accused Channakeshava  alias Keshava and Manjunath, who attacked Srinivas, have been absconding since the incident.
Srinivas H R, a Technical Consultant in the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj (RDPR) department in Kunigal taluk of Tumakuru district, who was allegedly attacked by some middlemen for not clearing their fake bills, says he was also threatened earlier for working honestly. In an interview with Kiran Parashar K M, the upright official says these days, threats to government officials have become a professional hazard. Excerpts:
Why did they attack you?
We had allotted works to labourers (under MGNREGA) to dig pits to recharge underground water when it rains. A sum of `52,000 for each pit was mentioned. I, along with Kunigal Taluk Panchayat officer Narasimhaiah, visited the place and found that the quality of the work was compromised and the bill had excess amount. I had cut around `10,000 for each work. This had enraged Keshava and Manjunath. They were after me since a week. As my assessment was on the rightpath, I did not bother much. These are not works handed over to middlemens, but to labourers. But middlemen lure the labourers by paying money in advance and make a profit (by inflating bills) later.What exactly happened on September 12?
After I finished my work, I was on my way home near Magadi. Around 7.30 pm, I was close to a farm somewhere near Talakere Post when two men, armed with machetes, attacked me. They aimed for my head, but somehow I managed to escape and was injured on my right hand. I turned my vehicle and rode a few metres before I fell down. People rushed me to a hospital and I regained consciousness only the next day. Doctors told me that I may need at least a month to recover. I feel I was fortunate to miss death by a whisker.
Did you have any inkling that they would attack you?
Though I was threatened thrice on the same day, I had never expected the attack. That day, I had got two phone calls (Srinivas claimed that he has recorded the conversations) and the caller threatened me to sanction the bill. The first call was made around 1.30 pm. Around 3.30 pm, two people (Keshava and Manjunath) entered the office and openly threatened me that they will chop off my hand for reducing the bill. The executive officer and other colleagues were also in office that time. Around 4.30 pm, I received another phone call with the caller threatening me again that he would not spare me at any cost. And they were true!
But what stopped you from filing a complaint?
My executive officer, who had witnessed the entire act, told me to file a complaint with the police. As I had many works to complete, I neglected it and continued working.
Were you ever threatened at work before?
These days, threats to government officials have become a professional hazard, especially when you work in rural areas. Though threats were common, I had never expected this sort of incident. This was the first time that these middlemen went to such an extent. What hurts me most is that it happened in my native place (Kunigal taluk).

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Fadnavis, BMC quick to respond as Kapil Sharma tweets to PM Modi complaining of corruption

Indian Express dated 9/9/16
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the richest civic body in the country, were quick to respond to allegations of corruption and bribe-taking made by popular comedian and actor Kapil Sharma.
Sharma earlier today tweeted out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi complaining that he has to pay Rs 5 lakh as bribe to the BMC for getting approval for an office in spite of paying income tax regularly. The actor’s Twitter base that accounts for more than six million followers made sure the tweet went viral and knocking at the doors of important people.

Karnataka Government sitting on six ACB proposals on filing FIRs

The New Indian Express d 8/9/2016
BENGALURU: The state government is sitting on six proposals from the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) seeking sanction to register FIRs against tainted bureaucrats/officials after prima facie case was found against them.
Replying to a query at a press conference here on Wednesday, ADGP-ACB K V Gagandeep said the six proposals sent to the state government have been pending since a month.
However, sources said at least three similar requests have been pending since last four months.
To a question on the preliminary investigation into three cases registered with regard to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s controversial Hublot watch, Gagandeep said, “We are still investigating this case and have sought details from the Customs Department and Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is also probing the matter.”
According to sources, not only is the state government sitting on proposals seeking sanction for filing FIR, it has also not approved the guidelines sent by the ACB on various aspects of investigation including the deadline for completion of preliminary investigation into complaints filed by the public.
Therefore, there is no clarity on completion of preliminary investigation and hence the CM’s watch row is still at the preliminary stage of investigation even three months after a complaint was filed.
According to M A Saleem, IGP-ACB, three complaints were filed in connection with the Hublot watch case. They include one filed by advocate Nataraj Sharma and another petition transferred to the ACB by the Lokayukta police. “We are collecting details from different departments,” Saleem said.
When asked about the land scam allegedly involving Chief Secretary Arvind Jadhav, Gagandeep said the case is under preliminary investigation and they are still collecting documents.

ACB wants govt. to keep it out of RTI Act ambit

The Hindu dated 8/9/16
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has written to the government seeking permission to be exempted from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The request was made a few months ago and was a step toeing the Central Bureau of Investigation and the State Criminal Investigation Department, which are out of the purview of the RTI Act.
K.V. Gagandeep, Additional Director-General of Police, ACB, said it was very unlikely for the State government to give the green signal for their request.
Apart from this request, another one pending government sanction is the permission to conduct investigation into cases against government officials in which preliminary investigation has been completed. Mr. Gagandeep was addressing mediapersons here on Wednesday to announce searches in the offices and homes of three government officials.
The ACB sleuths searched the house of Srinivasa Reddy, Deputy Director, Commerce and Industries, Chintamani, Chickballapur district, and his office in Kolar; house of Sampath Krishna, Deputy Director, Mines and Geology Department, at R.T. Nagar here and his office in V.V. Towers; and house of G.T. Srinivas, second-grade clerk, Chickballapur Taluk Office.
“We seized documents, and investigation is on,” said M.A. Saleem, Inspector-General of Police, ACB.
About the luxury watch case involving the Chief Minister, he said they were awaiting information from

IPS officers pay up for the games they played in Oz

Bangalore Mirror d 9/9/16
As Indian Police Service (IPS) officers, Abhishek Goyal and Raman Gupta are supposed to uphold the law; it is their duty and calling. On a study trip to Australia, however, the two young officers forgot their oath and indulged themselves: bunking classes, not wearing their uniform; they even took their families along on taxpayers' money.

In a major embarrassment to the state government, the two have now been let off with a rap on their knuckles: a written unconditional apology and recovery of the money that the government spent on sending them for the study tour in Australia (Rs 65,000 each).

While Goyal is Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Gupta is serving as Superintendent of Police in the newly formed Anti-Corruption Bureau. Both had gone to Australia as part of a mid-career training programme with the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (NPA). However, they were not awarded the course completion certificate due to the alleged 'misconduct, gross indiscipline and insubordination'.

The charges against the officers pertain to the training held between November 3, 2015 and November 27, 2015, followed by a foreign exposure study visit from November 29, 2015 to December 4, 2015 in Australia.

The National Police Academy filed a draft charge sheet against the officers and asked for a penalty to be imposed on them (recovery of money spent on their tour). It constituted a two-member team -- S Raveendran, deputy director and Putta Vimaladitya (IPS) - to investigate the alleged misconduct of the officers.

The NPA investigation found that Goyal wore jeans, T-shirt and sports shoes for the forenoon session despite the faculty coordinator having briefed the participants about the dress code. Gupta's conduct was the same.

Also, Goyal and Raman wanted to be exempted from attending the last leg of the scheduled training at Melbourne. Despite the faculty coordinator's refusal, both remained in Brisbane and didn't attend the last leg of the program in Melbourne on December 4, 2015.

The letter states that the officers 'forcefully' brought along their families in the bus from Gold Coast despite clear instructions that families were not allowed to travel on the same bus due to insurance-related instructions.

Although they were warned repeatedly, the officers did not mend their ways and 'showed gross indiscipline and insubordination, vitiating the training atmosphere bringing disrepute to both the Academy and the IPS fraternity'.

"Complaints reached the DG&IGP's office about Goyal and Gupta. Notices were given to both asking for an explanation. Both gave replies with an un-conditional apology and also refunded the money which the government spent on sending them to Australia. The money was refunded to the National Police Academy. After this, the case has been closed and the same was conveyed to NPA, the state government and also to the Ministry of Home Affairs," ADGP, Administration, Praveen Sood told Bangalore Mirror.