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J&K wages war against corruption

Today Jammu and Kashmir is in the frontline in war against corruption, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Oct 25, 2006 01:04 IST
Arun Joshi

Today Jammu and Kashmir is inthe frontline in war against corruption, a long journey from its dubious tag of being the second most corrupt state in the country, after Bihar, just little over a year ago.

Things are moving against the corrupt and the level of accountability is rising, as the state government is unsparing toward the corrupt in the officialdom.

Jammu and Kashmir hasbecome a pioneer in the country in making the most stringent and innovative law to make the corrupt public servant more accountable.

The J&K Prevention of Corruption Act was amended toempower the state government and state Vigilance Organisation (SVO) to attach, during investigation, property acquired by a public servants through corrupt means.

Under this provision, properties of six such officers valued at Rs 2 crore acquired through corrupt practices have so far been attached.

Over half a dozen more such cases are under process for similar action. The Vigilance Organisation has registered 82 cases over the past one year which include 45 cases of public servants caught red-handed, demanding and accepting bribes.

The government has also cracked down on public servants having disproportionate assets with 11 cases registered so far. The total valuation of moveable and immoveable properties of these 11 officials is estimated at Rs10 crore.

The Government can seize the properties of the corrupt officers even after their retirement.

"I have to deliver on the promise I have made to the people," Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told Hindustan Times.Immediately after taking over on November 2, 2005, the chief minister had declared "jihad against corruption". Heb had declared that zero tolerance would be shown toward corruption and the corrupt people."

This is one of his achievements in the first year in office. He completes the first year on November 2.

According to an estimate of SVO, some officials have caused a loss of Rs 8 crore to the state exchequer by misappropriation of funds. Fifty-nine cases were registered, and 23 of which were fully investigated during 2006.Seven of these cases were challaned in the court of law.

In all, the SVO has challaned 81 cases in the court during this year. Government has expeditiously started according sanction for prosecution and 57 such sanctions were granted this year.

Besides the government has strengthened the institution of Department Vigilance Officer to attend to the preliminary enquiries of complaints within the departments.

"A new monitoring institution of Additional District Development Commissioner was created exclusively for expediting the development projects in the districts. The officials, besides ensuring timely completion of the projects, also check the quality of construction material being used," Azad said.

Unique in the country, the system enforces the accountability of the field officers in respect of the creation and quality of infrastructure in the districts.

Earlier, there used to be a mismatch between the actuality and visible physical infrastructure. Since District Development Commission is over burdened with routine activities, monitoring always suffered.

"So innovative and effective are these measures that the chief ministers at a recent CMs' conference expressed their desire to get the concept papers on these initiatives for adoption in their own states," Azad said.

First Published: Oct 25, 2006 01:04 IST