Sanjeev Kumar Patro

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  • In the case of Ramchandra Jena, the big failure of CVOs was to the fore because the official had already been held twice by the State Vigilance in graft cases.

Nearly a dozen disproportionate asset cases by Odisha Vigilance in a span of 3-months unravel the dark underbelly of administration in various departments of the Odisha government. Corruption seems to be rampant at all levels - from class IV to Class I - in the State, despite the much-touted 5T system in place.

Such a rapid-fire of DA cases spanning the department of the likes of education, forest, health, agriculture, women and child development to revenue reveals big - the internal vigilance mechanism in every government department seems to have gone kaput.

The latest in the graft opera of the State has been the arrest of Nimapada Tehsildar Ramchandra Jena, who already had his hands in the till with two PCA cases.

In the year 2021, Jena is the fifth Tehsildar to come in the dragnet of Odisha Vigilance. And the geographical spread - from Mayurbhanj, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Puri etc - underlines how viral is the corruption in the State's landscape.

Internal Vigilance In Slumber?

While the Naveen Patnaik Government has implemented 5T in every crucial State government department to ensure transparent governance and prevent corruption, the recent prized catch of disproportionate assets worth Rs 6.97 cr from constable Prasanna Behera, whose monthly salary is below Rs 30k, puts the full glare on the deep rot.

Since every department in the Odisha government has an internal vigilance cell headed by a chief vigilance officer, how come the money laundering babus and karamcharis are mushrooming?  

Task of Chief Vigilance Officer

A CVO in every department has two functions - preventive and punitive. As the Naveen Patnaik government has been putting a premium on the 5T 'software' to curb the rising graft, it is imperative for the CVO to reboot the 5T software to minimise and eliminate corruption.

But the Odisha Vigilance's frequent swoops (nearly 12 DA cases in last 3-months) unearthing the ill-gotten jackpots raise eyebrows at the CVOs across departments.

The CVO is mandated to keep a tab on annual property returns (APRs) of employees working in the department when in2019, the Naveen Patnaik government had made it mandatory for all State government employees to file APRs.

Not only that domain, service rules mandate CVO to remain vigilant on Benami transactions of its officers, and also have a keen eye on the financial stride of close relatives of the officials working in the department, especially of officials posted at vantage positions.

Moreover, it is the CVOs who on a regular basis had official meetings with the State Vigilance or the anti-graft watchdog.

As per highly placed sources, no regular meetings of CVOs with State Vigilance were being held in the State.

"It is the CVOs who can pass the necessary inputs to Odisha Vigilance about amassing of ill-gotten money by crooked officials. But this is not the case in the State. Vigilance raided constable Prasanna Behera after the high profile Manish murder case," said Pradeep Pradhan, RTI activist.

Tehsildar Graft Story

As per the State Vigilance record, of the 5 Tehsildar's trapped in graft cases, two were arrested after an interception by anti-graft sleuths leading to the seizure of ill-gotten booty. When the sleuths arrested Ramchandra Jena, he was caught with Rs 4.6 lakh cash.

Similarly, Barang tehsildar was arrested in March this year after an interception by vigilance sleuths that led to the seizure of over Rs1.07 lakh cash.   

In the case of Ramchandra Jena, the big failure of CVOs was to the fore because the official had already been held twice by the State Vigilance in graft cases.

"It is the duty of CVO to submit all documents and other essentials to the State Vigilance for fast-tracking the conviction of government officials caught by the anti-graft body. Jena still managing to remain in the hot seat and minting money bares it all," said Pradhan.

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