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What about 700-crore loss?

WHEN THE Lokayukta booked Omprakash Dhurve, the former state minister and chairman Food and Civil Supplies Corporation, he proved me right on two counts: first, that exchequer losses can and should be viewed as corruption, and second, that unless the honest inside informers demonstrate solidarity with the anti-corruption agencies, the corrupt will go scot-free.

india Updated: May 11, 2006 14:36 IST

WHEN THE Lokayukta booked Omprakash Dhurve, the former state minister and chairman Food and Civil Supplies Corporation, he proved me right on two counts: first, that exchequer losses can and should be viewed as corruption, and second, that unless the honest inside informers demonstrate solidarity with the anti-corruption agencies, the corrupt will go scot-free.

The Dhurve case brings home the truth that to smother corruption it is necessary to strike at the heart of institutionalised corruption, for corruption is a hundred-headed Hydra and apprehending just a few individuals now and then, here and there, is not going to eradicate the evil.

In the Dhurve case the Lokayukta was extraordinarily lucky as the Managing Director, General Manager, and others supported him and stood on their official morality to expose losses to the exchequer.

It is deplorable that honest people (they are in the majority everywhere) never cooperate by taking a moral stand on the issue of corruption prevailing in their respective departments.

It is they who inadvertently promote corruption and become, by their silence, passive accomplices. Government offices and other institutions are the best recruiting ground for the Lokayukta from where he can raise a cadre of self-styled national volunteers, who will fearlessly speak out against their own brood and betray the nest in the larger national interest. The Food and Civil Supplies Corporation staff has shown the way that sincerity pays. Why not the other departments take the hint?

Regarding the issue of losses as corruption, it would be downright cynicism if one were to claim that all losses are corruption, for there might be honest losses as well emanating from overenthusiastic implementation of innovative welfare schemes etc. These and many more may be condoned if losses are in reasonable limits, but when huge losses stare us menacingly in the face as a routine, it is time to take stock of the situation.

When sometime back I wrote in this column about the widely reported mind-boggling loss of Rs 700 crore that the Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (MPSRTC) had suffered over a long period of time, I was told  (open to correction) that the Managing Director/General Manger and other responsible officers were so complacent that they never inquired into the recurrent losses.

To be sure Rs 700 crore cannot be enumerated as honest losses, specially when it was alleged that batteries, tyres, spare parts, diesel were available in the market, besides the on-route passenger ticket pilferages.

If anti-corruption agencies like the Lokayukta do not take note of such huge losses incurred by the Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation, let them write off the laughable amount of Rs 8 lakh that the Food and Civil Supplies Corporation has suffered. Why not Dhurve, in the name of justice and equality before law, ask for an inquiry into the working of the MPSRTC as well?