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Devise plan to monitor officers, works in forest dept: Activists

It seems that the Uttarakhand forest department is having difficulties with some “black sheep”. So much so that chief minister TS Rawat has to intervene

dehradun Updated: Apr 26, 2018 21:40 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times
Activists allege that corruption was rampant in the Uttarakhand forest department. (HT File Photo for representation)

It seems that the Uttarakhand forest department is having difficulties with some “black sheep”. So much so that chief minister TS Rawat has to intervene. Rawat on Wednesday gave nod for vigilance enquiry against Kishan Chand, a former deputy director Rajaji Tiger Reserve, at present attached with the forest headquarters in the state capital.

The CM’s office received a complaint of disproportionate assets against the official.

In another case, the additional managing director Uttarakhand Forest Development Corporation recommended vigilance and income tax probe against Puran Singh Bisht, an assistant accountant posted in Haldwani for allegedly forging over ₹ 2.50 crore in transportation and lopping of woods.

Sometime back whistle blower IFS official Sanjeev Chaturvedi unearthed a financial bungling of over ₹5.6 crore in resin collection work by an officer. Activists allege corruption was rampant in the department and government needs to act with the iron fist.

“The process of minting money with corrupt practices is still ongoing in the department. Not only employees, but even senior officers are involved. Its time when BJP-led state government should take strict action against the officers,” said Dinesh Pandey, a Haridwar-based activist.

Rajeev Mehta, another activist, claimed whether plantation activity, foreign tours, water conservation projects concerning international funding, the government should devise a plan to monitor the works instead of merely waiting for the progress report from the officers.

“Kishan Chand has political contacts. He has several bungalows and probably deposits and bonds worth several crores. We are sure that the vigilance will nab his assets and expose him,” a senior forest officer said on the condition of anonymity.

The assistant accountant in Haldwani had been giving tender to his family for transportation and lopping of woods-which is mandate of UFDC.

The investigation led by Suhag found out that he submitted over ₹2.50 crore in the bank accounts of his wife and other family members giving blow to the state treasury.

Chaturvedi’s report highlighted how the divisional forest officer (DFO) Champawat, AK Gupta gave illegal permits of felling pine and trees.

“A corruption case involves participation on various levels. I had urged to bring in Lokayukta Bill to check corruption. Also, it’s important to take action against senior officers without which the lower staff can’t move an inch,” Chaturvedi said.

Head of forest force and principal chief conservator of forest (PCCF) Jai Raj said: “If brought to my notice, and then we will ensure action taken on people involved.”

He is already investigation the seizure of five tiger skin and 125 kg bone reported in 2016 and has asked top forest officers to submit their stance.

First Published: Apr 26, 2018 21:40 IST