A senior divisional officer (SDO) of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) is in the soup after he was caught on a spy camera accepting that he took bribe.
Gurmeet Singh, regional office 2, Ludhiana, is caught telling the factory owners, who made the recording, "I have committed no big mistake in taking bribe. It is not bribe, it is brotherhood."
On October 4, SDO Gurmeet Singh had raided Dashmesh Industries at Simlapuri without any orders from the PPPCB .
Despite finding nothing wrong with the documents, Singh took Rs. 1,000 from the owner.
Later, when the owner brought the matter to the PPCB member secretary, Babu Ram, Singh returned the money, but denied having raided the factory or having taken the bribe.
Singh not only lied to the member secretary, he didn't even register his movement with the PPCB office executive engineer, Rajeev Sharma, which is mandatory for the officials before any inspection.
Singh also made several calls to the factory owners and pleaded them "to take the complaint back as it will ruin him and effect his promotion".
When contacted the member secretary said, "I don't know the whole matter. It is true we have received the complaint against him. The action will be taken as per the evidence put before us."
Singh, when contacted, said, "I was at Jaitto on October 6 and didn't meet anyone. All our movements are registered in the office. I never met any Arvind or anyone from Dashmesh Industries on October 6."
On October 4, SDO Gurmeet Singh raided Dashmesh Industries at Simlapuri at around 4.45 pm. Employees of the factory called their owner Sachleen Makkar, who came along with RTI activist Arvind Sharma. Singh sought the consent documents and other records of the unit. Makkar showed all the documents to Singh. Finding the documents up to mark, Singh asked for Rs. 2,500 for the expenses incurred on taxi. Arvind Sharma refused to give the money to Singh terming it as bribe, but Singh remained adamant and eventually settled for Rs. 1,000.
A few minutes later, Arvind and Rohit Sabharwal, another RTI activist, complained to Babu Ram, member secretary, PPCB, about the bribe taken by their SDO.
At around 6.45 pm on the same day, Singh came back to the factory and returned the money. Yet, he told Babu Ram that he had never gone to the factory for the inspection.
On October 5, the complainants went to the PPCB's regional office to file a written complaint against Singh for taking bribe. Rajeev Sharma, executive engineer, informed them that 'there were actually no orders to raid the factory and Singh had raided the site without any permit from the PPCB.'
Singh, when asked to report by Sharma, took leave on October 5 citing marriage of his daughter as the reason.
Since October 6, Singh has been making calls to the complainant to 'withdraw the complaint against him as his future will be ruined."
Singh again visited the factory on Oct 6 evening to convince the complainants to take back their complaint when Arvind made the video with a spy camera, the copy of which is with Hindustan Times. In the video shot by Sharma, Singh accepts and says, " Oh rishwat nahi, oh taan bhaichaare ti gal hai. (It is not bribe, it is brotherhood). I have done no big crime by taking Rs. 1000. Yes I accept that I never registered my movement in office to raid this factory. I lied to Babu Ram and Rajeev Sharma because my promotion file is lying pending with them. Please withdraw complaint against me otherwise I will be ruined. Please save me."