Gujarat ACB files case against municipal officer days after Rajkot fire - Hindustan Times
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Gujarat ACB files case against municipal officer days after Rajkot fire

Jun 07, 2024 08:38 AM IST

ACB found Bhikhabhai Theba’s investments in properties exceeded his known sources of income by 67.27%, drawing attention to a broader corruption

The Gujarat Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has filed a case against Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC)’s deputy fire officer Bhikhabhai Theba for alleged disproportionate assets following a probe after the fire at a gaming centre on May 25 left 27 people dead.

The fire at Rajkot gaming centre on May 25 drew attention to broader corruption. (HT PHOTO)
The fire at Rajkot gaming centre on May 25 drew attention to broader corruption. (HT PHOTO)

Welding work at the gaming centre, which had just one entry-exit point that trapped the people inside, without a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the fire department is believed to have caused the fire.

The irregularities prompted an investigation that showed Theba allegedly misused his position to accumulate wealth through corrupt means. ACB found his investments in properties exceeded his known sources of income by 67.27%, drawing attention to a broader corruption within local government offices.

ACB booked Theba days after Rajya Sabha member Ram Mokariya told a Gujarati newspaper that he bribed the RMC official 70,000 for an NOC for a building proposal on a 27,000 square yard plot, which was converted from non-agricultural to residential/commercial use.

Mokariya accused RMC and the district collector’s office of corruption and harassment. He claimed bureaucrats tried to block his 200 crore land development project. Mokariya said despite paying the bribe, his project was not approved. He claimed Theba returned his 70,000 through a third party after he became a Rajya Sabha member.

The Rajkot Crime Branch last month arrested planning officer Mansukh Sagathia, assistant town planning officers Mukesh Makwana and Gautam Joshi, and fire station officer Rohit Vigora in connection with the TRP Game Zone fire. The Special Investigation Team investigating the matter on May 30 questioned top police officers including Raju Bhargava, Vidhi Chaudhary, and Sudhirkumar J Desai.

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