Dehra Dun : Though still in its infancy, having coming to formation in November 2000, Uttarakhand is in on its way of getting the dubious distinction of the most corrupt state in the country; a feat that was once held by Bihar till Nitish Kumar came and cleared the stables.
And while the masses who have become virtually sick of the non-governance and rampant corruption prevalent at all levels of babudom, mince no words to claim that it has already reached the top wrung of the ladder as far as corruption is concerned, but even the governments and political parties are now voicing their concern.
Just at the fag end of its tenure, the BJP government in the state led by B C Khanduri, has now woken up to the alleged acts of corruption during the previous Congress government led by veteran politician N D Tewari. It has referred 17 cases of alleged irregularities purported to have been committed during the Tewari regime to the state vigilance department for probe and legal action.
While there is different opinion in the amount involved in these said cases, the factual position is that these are only those in which the government was directly or indirectly involved and not officials of various departments. Reports are that there is no record of the number of cases involving corrupt officials.
Add to this the number of scams that allegedly took place during the tenure of Ramesh Pokhriyal â€˜Nishankâ€™ who headed the BJP government before being replaced by Khanduri as the chief minister. There are at least 10 major scams that the opposition Congress is demanding a probe into by the CBI.
With a bureaucracy that is said to have been on the not wanted list in Uttar Pradesh, from which this mountain state was carved out, and a political set up with no experience in governance, there was a filed day for the corrupt at various levels, without anyone to bell the cat or guilty.
Official files in various departments are evidence to gross acts of corruption but there has been no deterrent action against the perpetrators. Imagine that a large number of irrigation canals were made, but only on paper and not an inch was laid at the ground level while the entire amount involved was misappropriated.
There are reports that the wife of an officer of the irrigation department has bought jewelry worth Rs 2 crores in the last one-and-a-half years alone. Add to this the other investments that must have been done in houses, plots and other things and one can imagine where the figure would add up to.
Scribes here have an audio cassette of a senior officer of the Mussoorie Dehra Development Authority (MDDA), where he is alleged to be saying that he has to pay the chief minister (then Ramesh Pokhriyal) Rs 50 lakhs every month and as such he has to collect the amount from the masses. Mercifully, he is no longer at the seat.
And as far as governance is concerned, people had hoped that things would improve for the better with Khanduri coming at the helm of affairs, But they seem to be going from only bad to worse. It has been over three months that the supply office has been without ration cards. The poor have been running from pillar to post to get the ration cards so that they could buy the essential commodities from the public distribution system shops, but to no avail.
The Khanduri government has passed a law that the department will have to make new ration cards within 15 days, but it has been nearly 60 days that Khanduri became the chief minister, and he is still not aware of the fact that the department does not even have ration cards in stock, could not even manage to print them in these 60 days, so from where will they give it to the man on the street.
Photo: Ravinder Makhaik