After lying low for days, chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat seems to have finally stirred himself to initiate steps in keeping with the BJP’s anti-graft poll plank that helped it register a landslide win in the assembly polls.
On Saturday, Rawat recommended a CBI probe into a land fraud to the tune of ₹ 240 crore and initiated action against seven revenue department officials.
The government suspended three forest officials for failing to give adequate protection to a beat watcher before the mining mafia in Ramnagar mowed him down.
The CBI probe into the ₹240 crore land scam, pertained to the illegal transfer of farmland for widening of the national highway-74 in Udham Singh Nagar. The scam took place during the previous Congress regime.
Rawat suspended six of the seven officials of the rank of the sub-divisional magistrate for their alleged involvement in the land scam. “A case will be registered against the seventh official involved in the fraud, who retired recently,” he told media persons.
The CBI probe was recommended on the basis of an inquiry conducted by Kumaon commissioner Senthil Pandiyan, he said. “The probe revealed that 25 times more compensation was paid after the officials illegally converted the use of farmland acquired for the national highway,” Rawat said, adding that no genuine farmer whose land was acquired for the national highway project was paid the monetary compensation.
The chief minster’s anti-corruption initiative came nine days after he and his cabinet were sworn-in on March 18.
“Leave some of your queries for another day,” Rawat said when reporters asked him when he would fulfill the BJP’s pre-poll promise to appoint the Lokayukta (anti-graft ombudsman) if the party came to power.
The anti-corruption statements Rawat made targeting the previous Congress regime since coming to power, indicate that he might initiate some more anti-graft initiatives in the days to come.
At a reception hosted by the BJP in his honour at the party headquarters on Wednesday, he spoke of pursuing a “zero tolerance’ policy against corruption.
The statement came hours before he ordered a CBI probe into the land scam.
At the function, he said he was also closely examining the files relating to the previous Congress regime.
“Records clearly show that some people were hell-bent on turning the state hollow,” Rawat said, indirectly taking potshots at the previous Congress government.
Admitting that the BJP returned to power riding on the poll-plank against corruption, he said his government would also launch a “dharmayudh’ against corruption at all levels.
Analysts appreciated Rawat’s move to order a CBI probe into the land scam, saying that “such an initiative was never taken under the Congress regime.
“The anti-corruption initiative (CBI probe) taken by Rawat is worth appreciating…It will, however, be too early to judge him on the basis of just one such initiative,” said Prof MM Semwal of HNB Garhwal (Central) University.