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Has Ex-Bureaucrat Taradatt’s Book Exposed Odisha Govt?

Bhubaneswar: At a time when Odisha government is boasting about good governance with so much hype on its 5T and Mo Sarkar initiatives, ‘Highlander’s Plainspeak: An Administrative Rede’, a book penned by former Additional Chief Secretary of Odisha, Taradatt has a different story to tell.

In the book, the 1983 batch IAS officer has highlighted several chinks in the State government’s big talk on transparency which includes the instances how despite looking clean from the outside, corruption has been eating away the government machinery like a termite.

Odisha government set up a task force in a hurry to prevent CBI enquiry into mega land allotment scam by Odisha State Housing Board, BDA, CDA, and GA department after a petition was filed in this connection in the Orissa High Court, Taradatt who was appointed as the chief of the task force narrated in his book.

He pointed out that the CM had also thanked him for submitting the review report on the scam before the stipulated period. However, he was shocked when he was asked to say before the media that the report was an interim one.

Taradatt explains in the book that he was even more surprised when the CM himself asked him to take more time in filing the final report.

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He writes that while he had submitted the finishing report, some particular officers had instigated the CM saying that his report was not final because its data on BDA, CDA did not match with that of the CAG audit report. Interestingly, a present BJD leader and Rajya Sabha member was the then C&AG.

“…the report did not cover critical observations made by C&AG in a recently released audit report and that further investigations had been recommended which suggested that it was still incomplete. I was also told that the report needed to sanitise the office of Chief Minister,” Taradatt quoted in his book.

“It was clear that the Chief Minister was led to believe that the Task Force report did not cover all aspects” he mentioned.

Making more eye-opening revelations in his book, Taradatt pointed that his task force report mentioned how influential personalities including political heads, bureaucrats to administrators and even journalists to dozens of sitting and former High Court judges availed more than one plot and flats by violating the discretionary quota guidelines.

Due to the report, he explains how his integrity non-negotiable approach to quality service delivery without any room for corruption made several of his friends and associates part ways with him.

Known as one of the few administrators who believed in being ruthlessly upfront and straight in all the conduct and expressions, Taradatt has claimed in his book that while the State government directed for a probe into the scam during the period from 1995 to 2014, many officials involved in the corruption prior to the period managed to escape.

“Only a handful of senior officials having received the benefit of discretionary quota or otherwise after 1.1.1995 suffered humiliation due to adverse publicity their names received selectively in print and electronic media, while darker fish got away,” Taradatt highlighted in his book.

Senior journalist Prabhu Kalyan Mohapatra said, “People of the State awaited release of his (Taradatt’s) report with hopes that it would expose the corruption but it was already known that the government would never bring it out to public domain or execute it because many influential persons in the government were also involved in the scam.”

On the revelation, BJP MLA Kusum Tete said, “Taradatt was part of the government so he must be bringing these allegations because he must be knowing about it. As Opposition party leaders, we are also witnessing how this government is stooping so low to hide its real face of corruption by overnight transfers and attempts to suppress reports.”

Response of the Odisha government officials could not be obtained.

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