Day after vigilance probe order, minister says one case doesn’t mean mass corruption
On Tuesday evening, chief minister TS Rawat ordered a vigilance enquiry after receiving complaints against the supervisor for his involvement in property dealings and for demanding bribe to ‘clear’ illegal constructionsdehradun Updated: Nov 01, 2017 20:39 IST
The Uttarakhand government is open to a wider probe if the need arises in the case of a Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) supervisor’s alleged involvement in corruption, urban development minister Madan Kaushik said Wednesday.
On Tuesday evening, chief minister TS Rawat ordered a vigilance enquiry after receiving complaints against the supervisor for his involvement in property dealings and for demanding bribe to ‘clear’ illegal constructions.
“We will take appropriate action if we receive any corruption complaint, be it against any staff member or official, after getting it (complaint) duly verified,” Kaushik told HT. He asserted that the cases of corruption against individuals might “not necessarily be indicative of corruption in the organisation.”
This was after industry insiders and activists alleged the vigilance probe may cover just “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to corruption in the MDDA. The MDDA’s functioning, they said, was questioned in the past, too, and allegations of corruption were not new. The Authority was set up in 1984 to ensure planned development of Dehradun and Mussoorie.
In February last year, a vigilance team caught an MDDA supervisor for accepting Rs 1 lakh from a complainant. An additional amount of Rs 7 lakh was found stashed at his home. The supervisor claimed he took the bribe on behalf of an MDDA assistant engineer, who was later arrested. A stung MDDA immediately attached all field supervisors and fourth division employees to its main office.
In August, the Uttarakhand Right to Service Commission questioned the MDDA’s ‘working style’ for taking two years in order to flag objections in bits and pieces, unnecessarily delay and ultimately reject sanction of a construction map. “Serious anomalies” were flagged in the Master and Zonal development plans wherein activists alleged that MDDA officials “twisted” land use changes and road outlays allegedly under pressure from real estate operators.
Underlining that a supervisor is one of the lowest ranks of officials, activists called for a wider ambit of probe. “The government needs to dig deeper and try to root out the whole iceberg (of corruption),” Uttarakhand Engineers and Draftsmen Welfare Association president Devendra Singh Rana demanded.
“Ever since Dehradun was declared the (interim) capital (in 2000), real estate activities and constructions have grown manifold. It has made the MDDA a favourite playground for officials and staff,” Rana, who alone raised more than 200 objections to the Zonal Plan, said.
Over 118 housing projects are currently approved in Dehradun which recorded a decadal growth rate of over 32% according to the 2011 Census.
“Probe against a mere supervisor will not make much of a difference in the fight against corruption unless the government targets the big fish in a department which is known to be one of the most corrupt,” alleged socio-political activist Ravindra Jugran. “If the government really wants to hit hard, it should get probed the assets of all officials who’ve held the post of MDDA vice-chairpersons and secretary.”
Ashish Kumar Srivastava, who joined as the new vice chairperson of the MDDA last week, could not be contacted as his phone was switched off. MDDA secretary Prakash Chandra Dumka did not respond to calls despite repeated attempts.