Move against corruption a facade , to get votes

Dehra Dun : Uttarakhand is the first state of the country to put in place a Lokpal Bill. And though by doing so chief minister B C Khanduri may have become the poster boy of Anna Hazare, legal experts here claim that it is full of flaws and as such almost redundant, but it has been done to take the wind out of the issue of corruption, which is likely to be a major poll plank in the forthcoming assembly elections due in Feb.

Forget the Lokpal Bill, the primary concern is how effective is the Uttarakhand government to curb corruption, which is rampant at all levels from the highest rungs of the bureaucratic ladder to the lowest in the babudom. And it is not only that, even probe reports of various acts of corruption are conveniently brushed under the carpet so that action is not taken.

A moot case in point is the construction of tenements for the gujjars, who were to be moved out from the Rajai National Park area and rehabilitated there. The tenements were to be made in Gaundikhata and Pathri villages so that the gujjars could be shifted there with their animals and thereby reduce the pressure in the Park area.

But so poor was the construction that doors started giving way and concrete falling apart, and the matter was taken up. In 2007 the then director of the Corbett National Park was asked to look into the matter and he submitted his findings. His report was sent to the state government, but conveniently placed on the back burner with no action taken.

A complaint was again made in the matter and a second probe ordered in June this year. This time it was done by a very senior officer of the forest department and he too found a large number of irregularities in the construction. In July this year he submitted the report to the department, which forwarded it to the state government. But this too has been conveniently filed and forgotten.

One fails to understand the seriousness of the Khanduri government on its much publicized intent of doing away with, if not eradicating corruption. Here is one blatant example of how money was misutilised and pocketed by corrupt officials in connivance with contractors, in which not one but two reports have been submitted, but no action taken.

Apparently the so-called efforts to cleanse the system and make it transparent are only for public consumption in a desperate bid to get votes at the hustings. In ground realities the corrupt are being protected by their benefactors at high places, who share the proceeds. And as the tax payers money is swindled, it is the politician-bureaucrat-babudom nexus that has the last laugh.

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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