Corruption; thy name is Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun : Time was when the rich and affluent in the plains wanted a domestic servant from the hills of Garhwal, more popularly known as ‘bhulla’ (younger brother). Reason was they were known for their honesty, dedication and sincerity to their masters. In Nov 2000 Uttarakhand was carved our from Uttar Pradesh and in the fourteen plus years, it has become known for corruption and nepotism at various levels, including the top most echelons.

Sample this, what is being termed as just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Dehra Dun Municipal Corporation Mayor, Vinod Chamoli made no bones about it when he openly said that of the 7800 hectares of land under the Corporation, as much as 7560 hectares had been encroached upon and lack of cooperation from the concerned departments and protection from the government and ministers was the reason why no action could be taken upon the encroachers and all anti-encroachment drives proved futile.

“What sense does it make that there is a vigilance probe on the encroachments done on the Corporation land that is going on for over nine years now, but neither has it ended nor has it seen the light of day. And no one but the Corporation Board itself did not let the probe come to its legal end, for reasons best known to the then members”, he alleged.corruption

He went on to add that in 2012 a list of 22 encroachments was handed over by the Munisipal Corporation to the state vigilance department but no action had been taken till date. Forget action against the encroachers, no one knows what has happened to the list given to the department and if at all any action is being contemplated or at what stage is proceedings against them, he claimed.

To further stress his point Chamoli said that in 2008, the Corporation lodged 27 cases in various police stations of the city, but the police had not taken action against any of the persons involved in even one of the case. “On our part we have launched drives to remove encroachments along the banks of rivers and sides of nullahs, but the encroachers have only re-settled because of political patronage of local politicians.

He said it loud and clear that the ministers and MLAs are the ones who are getting the illegal encroachments done and if the state government makes an honest intention, the Corporation would have no problem in removing all the illegal encroachers, but the tragic irony is that the state government itself stops the Corporation from taking action and removing the encroachers from various parts of the city.

Obviously the Mayor has a point, for very recently the Mukhya Nagar Adhikari of the Dun Municipal Corporation was removed and transferred out in months to Nainital by the state government because he was coming down with a heavy hand on the illegal encroachers and the land mafia and taking action against them.

The concerned officer, Harak Singh Rawat told the media that a local minister was responsible for his transfer, as the minister did not like his taking action against the encroachers and the land mafia. The minister has tried to defend himself that he was being wrongly attributed as the person responsible for the transfer. But of the ministers in the cabinet, why alone did he have to come out with a clarification, is what people want to know.

This is not an isolated case of corruption at the highest level there are ‘n’ examples of how the official machinery dies not care a fig about doing their duty. Why is the Mussoorie-Dehra Development Agency (MDDA), the state police, the public works department and also the Municipal Corporation blind to the encroachments and why cannot a combined drive be held to get rid of them, is what the people in general are asking.

What could be more atrocious than the fact that the police department had to lodge a case against its own inspector for assisting and helping the mining mafia, after an initial enquiry found him guilty of the charges.

This is not an isolated case where the state machinery is allegedly hand-in-glove with the mining mafia who also has reportedly had the patronage of some political leaders. Despite the chief minister repeatedly asking the officials to stop illegal mining in the state and come down on the illegal mafia, they are going about without any fear of any action being taken against them.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt was Editor, Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish had worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, he was a recipient of many awards Jagdish Bhatt, aged 72, breathed his last on 28th August 2021 at his Dehradun residence.

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