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Millennium Post

How to grease a palm!

Even as the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan makes strenuous efforts to win over the electorate in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections, the prestige of his government has been hit by certain sensational incidents which took place during the last few days.

The incidents include a series of raids by the Lokayukta police. Sleuths of the Special Police Establishment of Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta raided the premises of Indian forest Service (IFS) officer Basant Kumar Singh and unearthed property worth approximately Rs 100 crores. Singh is Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF), Ujjain. Apart from his official residence in Ujjain, his house in Bhopal was also raided.

According to SP Lokayukta (Ujjain) Arun Mishra, the IFS officer’s wife had a significant share in five hotels, including a luxury hotel in Varanasi. He also owns a petrol pump, a 10,000 square-feet house and a marriage hall – all in Varanasi. His wife, son and father-in-law are partners in a company named M/s Gautam Infrastructures, whose headquarters is in Varanasi as well.

Besides, the officer also has a two-storey, 8,000-square feet house in Bhopal, 46 bighas of farmland in two villages both near Bhopal. He has also bought 175 bighas of land and a house in his hometown Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh. According to the SP, the raiding party also recovered papers showing fixed deposits of Rs 50 lakh and mutual fund and shares amounting to Rs 25 lakhs, Rs 19 lakh in cash of which Rs 17.5 lakh was found in Ujjain and Rs 1.5 lakh at the officer’s Bhopal residence. One kilogram of gold and 2.5 kilogram of silver was also recovered from him. The officer has 10 to 12 bank accounts in the name of his family members and a locker. About Rs. 50 lakhs have been recovered from bank accounts which were cleaned up.

After raids sensational revelations have been made about his proximity to politicians including chief ministers and forest ministers. In 2005 he was appointed as member-secretary of M P Pollution Control Board. It is learnt that present Energy Minister Rajendra Shukla, who was Minister of state for Environment and forest in 2005, had personally pushed the appointment of B K Singh as member secretary of the Board.

It is also learnt the successive BJP Chief Ministers Babulal Gaur and Shivraj Singh Chauhan helped him while ignoring objections and complaints of senior officers to appoint and retain Singh as member Secretary of the Board until litigation in High Court forced the Government to remove him in April 2007.

Right to information, documents show that the Forest Minister had in August 2005, asked the then principal secretary of the environment and forest department to seek fresh panel of names from forest department including the name of Singh for the appointment on the post. The forest department had earlier sent out panel of three other named to the environment and forest department. The then Principal secretary of the department was asked to suggest a new panel of names including the name of Singh, though he was quite junior to other officers on the panel. However keeping aside all objections and violating the rules, Singh was appointed as MPPCB member secretary on October 10, 2005. However the appointment was challenged in the High Court on December 2005, Singh was then removed from the post in April 2007. These facts prove that officials who amass property disproportionate to their income invariably enjoy the patronage of political busses.

Properties worth several crores have been unearthed from clerks, store in charge and even peons, in the past. This proves that corruption has taken deep roots in Madhya Pradesh. People in general allege that at present, nothing happens in the state without greasing the palms of the officers, clerks and even class four employees. Several complaints against the ministers and high officers are pending with the Lokayukta but no action has been taken against them. Corruption among the government officers has touched new high in Madhya Pradesh. Besides the instances of corruption, which have hit the prestige of the state government, chief minister is facing a problem which is political in nature. The Sangh Parivar has threatened a day-long
puja
on 15 February in Bhojshala located in Dhar. Bhojshala has been the subject of controversy in the similar manner as Babri Masjid. Both Hindus and Muslims claim that they have a right to perform puja and offer namaaz in Bhojshala.

This year a peculiar situation has arisen because Basant Panchmi happens to fall on Friday. Because of this, extremist Hindu outfits are demanding that since Basant Panchmi is a special occasion for Hindus, Muslims should be prevented from offering namaaz. But administration is finding it difficult to accede to the demand of Hindu outfits. The local administration is taking steps to facilitate both puja and namaaz. But this position is not acceptable to the Sangh Parivar.

Now, it would be interesting to see how Chauhan tackles the delicate situations. (IPA)
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