Is Corruption Crackdown In Odisha ‘Eyewash’? Will IAS, IPS Officers Face Music?

Bhubaneswar: The zero tolerance policy of the Odisha government under which scores of corrupt government officials were shown doors in quick succession recently, has failed to impress the Opposition, which has termed it a mere eyewash.

The opposition alleged that the state government is taking action against corrupt OAS and OFS officers, but going soft on tainted IAS and IPS officers who are allegedly involved in large-scale corruption in various departments. The opposition parties questioned whether the state government will take similar action against the corrupt Babus.

Official sources said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has sacked 42 officials within a month. On Friday, the state government handed out compulsory retirement to four officials involved in corruption while one official was sacked from service.

Among the officials handed out compulsory retirement was deputy conservator of forest, Sarat Panda. The action against him followed recovery of property worth Rs 5.23 crore in his name by the Vigilance officials. It was alleged that Panda had deposited huge cash in the names of his family members during demonetisation.

Similarly, former RTO of Dhenkanal, Basant Behera was given compulsory retirement after vigilance sleuths unearthed disproportionate assets worth Rs 3.61 crore. Besides, Kaptipada Tehsildar Pradip Kumar Behera has been sacked after corruption charges were proved against him.

However, the big question that is being raised is whether the government will adopt similar action in case of senior IAS and IPS officers. The Opposition alleged that government will never try to take action against senior IAS, IPS and IFS officers.

The vigilance data tell a different tale and supports the allegations of the opposition parties to some extent. According to the data, cases were registered against a total of 542 senior government officials last year of which 20 were Class-I officers. Surprisingly, only two of the total 20 Class-I officers have been sacked under the zero tolerance drive.

All the 37 officials sacked last month were lower level employees. Similarly, 33 lower level employees were dismissed from service for corruption in 2018.

If the data of last 10 years are examined, it is learnt that trials of vigilance cases are going on against 11 IAS officers and 227 OAS officers of which only four have been convicted. Of them only one IAS officer has been dismissed from service.

Speaking about the zero tolerance policy of the government, BJP general secretary, Prithviraj Harichandan said, “I would like to challenge CM Naveen Patnaik. If the government has courage, it should inform us what action would be taken against senior officials who are involved in mega corruption in various departments.”

“A large numbers of complaints of corruption by IAS and OAS officers are piled up and there is enough evidence to prove the allegations. Why Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is not taking action against them,” alleged former Odisha Congress chief, Jaydeb Jena.

On the other hand, ruling-BJD spokesperson Lenin Mohanty said “Action is being taken against senior officials too including top officials like assistant conservator of forest, senior transport service officers. Our CM always stresses on transparency. Action will be taken against errant officials.”