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Officers nailed but ex-minister ?let off?

india Updated: Aug 08, 2006 01:24 IST

THE STATE Government has adopted doubled standards in taking penal action against corrupt ministers and officers. While action has been taken against officers in the forestland scam, the then minister has been allowed to go scot-free.

Even after a lapse of three years the government is sitting tight over the directives of the Lok Ayukta for action against the then Minister for Land Development and Water Resources Kailash Nath Singh Yadav. In this unprecedented forestland scam involving Yadav and his kin, the government had already taken disciplinary action against 25 forest officers.

At the fag end of Mayawati’s rule, Lok Ayukta Justice SC Verma had written to her on May 19, 2003 for taking action against Yadav for grabbing forestland in Mirzapur and Sonebhadra. Yadav, who is now MP from Chandauli, had been accused of capturing huge chunk of reserved forestland. The Lok Ayukta letter said that there was an urgent need to act against the accused persons in the case. But inexplicably the state government had so far failed to take action against him.

Although the Lok Ayukta had recommended action against ministers and officers in several other cases, this seems to be the only case in which the government had nailed the officers but was protecting the minister.

While framing charges against Yadav, the Lok Ayukta had also found his wife Kumari Devi, brother-in-law Kishan Singh Yadav, son Sunil Kumar, Kunj Bihari, Ram Khelawan, Prabhu, Virendra Pratap Yadav and Bhagwati Prasad Giri, an employee of the minister’s firm KN Constructions guilty of grabbing more than 200 hectares of forestland. In this case, while the then chief forest conservator Ram Lakhan Singh was arrested other senior forest officers of Mirzapur were placed under suspension.

Meanwhile, resentment is brewing in the forest department over the dual policy of the government in tackling the case. “The minister was equally responsible for the land scam”, rued a senior forest officer here on Monday. He said the State Government had not touched him for purely political reasons. Even the departmental inquiry is still continuing against 16 forest officers and some of them are under suspension.

Yadav was not only charged with land grabbing but his construction company was also involved in theft of boulders and sand in Myorpur. The Lok Ayukta said the company did not pay revenue to the government. A forest conservator was also suspended in the theft case in 2002.