No governance and plenty of corruption in Uttarakhand

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Dehradun : It has been 11 years since Uttarakhand came into being after the hill areas were carved out of Uttar Pradesh. And while its people struggled for statehood, braving the bullets and lathis of the police and para-military forces so that their hopes and expectations could become a reality, things have only deteriorated and gone from bad to worse.

Over the past decade, governance has taken a beating, while corruption at all levels from the highest rungs to the lowest in the babudom is rampant and become a way of life in the state. And though both the Congress and the BJP, which have formed governments in the state, make tall claims of eradicating corruption, ensuring transparency and efficiency in the working of the government, facts at the grass root level even today indicate on the contrary.

Recently chief minister B C Khanduri spoke of the competent and honest (sic)administrative machinery in Uttarakhand. But if what is going in the state capital, Dehra Dun, right under the nose of the government is any indication, one can only presume what will be happening in the rural hinterlands of the state. Sample this, as to what extent things are going haywire.

The CBI conducted raids on LPG agencies in Dehra Dun and reached the conclusion that they have 30 per cent fake connections in their registers. As a result customers have to wait for days to get their supply. The fake registrations are either sold directly to commercial organizations or they are used to refill commercial cylinders, which are then sold Rs 1000 to Rs 1100 per cylinder. The actual commercial cylinder costs Rs 1300. Incidentally the CBI undertook the raids following inertia over the large number of complaints of irregularities by the state government.

Fair price shops under DPS are supposed to supply ration to new card holders after one month of a new ration card being made. But they do not supply ration for over two to three months, and the ration meant for the ration card holder is conveniently sold to shops in the open marker. The District Supply Officer and inspectors are unconcerned being hand-in-glove with the ration depot holders as ration meant for PDS supply is openly being sold in the markets.

There is a system under which the concerned department has to take permission from the state government for floating any tenders over Rs 50 lakhs. However, the state energy department was circumventing these directions by breaking the high value tenders into smaller value tenders below Rs 50 lakhs so that necessary government permission was not required. An enquiry is now underway.

A team of scribes of a regional daily went to police stations as individuals without revealing their identity. They found most of the police stations refusing to lodge FIRs and in one case the police constable even took Rs 200 to lodge a complaint. Most of the scribes posing as civilians were threatened of dire consequences, if they insisted for lodging the FIR.

Ten persons were killed when an unfit mini bus rolled down the khud while going from Tuini to Vikasnagar. Passengers, who were mercifully to escape the accident said that the bus was not fir to ply on the roads and broke down on three to four occasions. They told the driver to stop the bus, but he kept plying it without listening to the passengers, resulting in the accident. How come the RTOs are allowing unfit vehicles to ply on the roads.

Building which have been reportedly sealed by the MDDA because of being illegal constructions, have been fully constructed and completed despite the ban on their construction. How have the MDDA authorities become blind and allowed the completion of structures that they have themselves sealed for being illegal. Will someone explain

This is just a sample of what is happening at the grass root level and citizens are at the receiving end, with no one bothered to listen to their woes, as every senior officer seems to be operating in actual connivance with his juniors and sharing the spoils.

Uttarakhand has recently had its vidhan sabha elections and results are to be declared on Mar 6. Whether it is the BJP or the Congress that forms the government, only time will tell, but will these two major parties, who have promised efficient and transparent administration, look into these rampant instances of mass corruption and at least improve upon, if not make life better for the people of the state.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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