Corrupt Officials & Contractors


For dear life, when will we break the civic works nexus?

Broken walls, Sinking Roads, Leaking Pipes

Change the names…. Same story in all the cities.

H S BALRAM

It’s an open secret that unscrupulous contractors, in collusion with corrupt officials, fleece civic bodies by doing shoddy work and siphoning off taxpayers’ money. Every city in India has fallen prey to this dangerous nexus. Sadly, no stern measures are taken to eliminate the menace. Result:

Infrastructure remains poor, though funds are made available.

Bangalore, India’s IT capital, is high on this list. Badly-maintained roads, chaotic traffic, choked sewage and rainwater drains, missing footpaths, very few subways or skywalks for pedestrians, inadequate parking facility, acute power and water shortage, uncleared garbage, decreasing green cover and slow-moving development works, are the bane of this once peaceful and beautiful city.

On a rainy day recently, a wall built by one such contractor collapsed on a 17-year-old girl student, Sanjana Singh, who was walking home after attending tuition classes in the heart of Bangalore. She was buried under tonnes of debris. Her shouts and mobile calls failed to elicit response. She breathed her last before relief could arrive an hour or so later.

The city was shocked. Her family was shattered. Netas made customary calls to her house and offered compensation. Different inquiries were ordered.

The needle of suspicion pointed towards newly-elected corporator Munirathna. He was a contractor for civic works in that locality before he moved up the ladder. The portion that collapsed had been erected on a pipe without following norms. Munirathna was quick to deny his role.

When pressure built up, he admitted he had constructed only a part of the wall. The rest was built by a sub-contractor. He also threw a challenge: “I will resign the moment I am found guilty by an inquiry committee. I will give Rs 1 crore to Sanjana’s parents as compensation.”

Guess what the key findings of the first inquiry report are? Both Munirathna and sub-contractor Humesh Kumar are responsible for poor construction of the wall. Cement-sand-jelly stones ratio, which has to be 1:4:8 as per engineering practices, wasn’t maintained. Cement ratio was not only less but of poor quality.

No structural design and blueprint, particularly for the portion built on a pipe, was prepared. No inspection and supervision of the work. Weep holes that help water flow from one side of the wall to the other were missing.

Construction of a mandatory drain beside the wall to help water flow wasn’t done.
The estimated cost of widening of the Bellary Road, which necessitated reconstruction of the wall, was initially Rs 12.72 crore. This was increased to Rs 17 crore and then to Rs 29.55 crore, without government approval.

The findings are shocking. Not only were norms violated blatantly, but the corporation was cheated of funds. And the cornered corporator only says: “I will resign only if I am proven guilty by the court of law.

Now, a technical committee has given this report. The Lokayukta will also give its report. Police will also come up with their report. To which report should I respond?” So, no resignation. No compensation of Rs 1 cr to Sanjana’s parents as promised. The mayor says he has blacklisted both the contractors and written to the CM to initiate steps to force Munirathna step down as corporator. What about officials who connived with them or looked the other way? No action.

The public is skeptical. They fear the contractors will be back to their bad old ways, once the pressure eases. Just like hordes of corrupt officials trapped by Karnataka’s highly-proactive Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde. After a brief suspension period, these officials get back to their jobs, sometimes with a promotion. Only because he has no powers to initiate prosecution.

Only the other day, chief minister B S Yeddyurappa had boasted of cutting red tape and laying the red carpet to investors. If he is keen on turning words into action, he must start with the civic bodies.

Nothing moves here till the palms are greased. He must break the contractor-official nexus.

Chennai Police:update list of rowdies active in city


Police update list of rowdies active in city

A Selvaraj | TNN


Chennai: The city police have prepared a new list of rowdies who have become active in the past one year. Anybody found to be involved in assault cases on more than two occasions figures on the list.
“We have removed some of the rowdies from the records maintained by each police station because they are no longer active, and have created a new list of more than 500 rowdies in the city,” city police commissioner T Rajendran said.

“We are bringing each and every criminal under the police scanner. Their profiles have helped us crack many cases easily. Apart from this, we have also published profiles of chain snatchers and white collar criminals in separate volume of books. We have given the books to each and every police station. Their profiles along with their portraits helps us to nab criminals after their identification by the victims,” Rajendran added.

Chennai city has 93 police stations including the recently-inaugurated ones at Royala Nagar, Royapettah government hospital, Stanley Medical College and Madras Medical College. Each police station has history sheets of at least 20 to 30 rowdies who are active in their jurisdiction.

According to police sources, there are at least 1,600 history sheets available with the city police. In case of those who are no longer active in the city and moved to other areas, police have sent their criminal records to those areas so that the local cops could keep an eye on them.

There have also been additions and deletions in the list of gangsters maintained by the police. TP Chatram-based leading ganja peddler Krishnaveni, who is now in Puzhal prison, now figures in the infamous list, according to police sources.

Fighter against Corruption:Dattareya Patil, killed


Maharashtra corruption buster killed

This is the third such incident in the state where RTI activists were either killed or threatened with dire consequences after their exposes made local politicians uncomfortable.

By Deepak Lokhande in Mumbai

THE MURDER of Right to Information ( RTI) activist Dattatray Patil at Ichalkaranji in Maharashtra has left the community worried, which wants the state government to take some firm action.

This is the third such incident in the state where RTI activists were either killed or threatened with dire consequences after their exposes made local politicians uncomfortable.

Unidentified assailants threw chilli powder on Patil’s face before stabbing him to death last week. He had unearthed a corruption racket involving a Congress MP and former ministers. According to family members, Patil had exposed misappropriation of funds meant for the backward class people allegedly by these politicians.

“ A sustained campaign is on in the state where politicians and rulers are trying to silence RTI activists by either threatening them or by simply eliminating them. That’s what happened to Shetty and that’s what has happened to Patil. My own house was stoned last October. I have been engaged in social work for the past 20 years. Never before have I experienced such fear in my life,” Shivaji Raut, another RTI activist in Satara, said.

While the police claimed to have arrested a few suspects, Patil’s family has alleged that the real culprits are still at large.

Earlier this year, RTI activist Satish Shetty had been killed in Talegaon Dabhade near Pune. Neeraja Punj of Citispace NGO had been threatened for filing petitions against a slum rehabilitation scheme worth hundreds of crores of rupees.

Patil, who was a farmer and had no political affiliations, filed a series of RTI applications and found that the money pumped into the backward class societies was allegedly siphoned off by the local politicians. He found how the chairmen of the societies were namesakes and the financial affairs were run by a board that had few members from the backward class.

He wrote to the Central Bureau of Investigation seeking an inquiry into the matter. He also wrote to the chief minister, the director general of the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB). The money pumped in Kolhapur district was over Rs 370 crore. In neighbouring Sangli, Satara and Sindhudurg districts, the funds were in excess of Rs 766 crore.

Patil filed a public interest petition in March this year seeking action against local Congress MP and former minister Jaywantrao Avale and his sons for alleged misappropriation of Rs 7.6 crore in one such society. He had named NCP’s Prakash Awade and former social justice minister Chandrakant Handore in several of his complaints to the police.

He had also filed a writ petition against local councillors, who had allegedly taken favours during mayoral polls. The court had directed the ACB to take note of his complaint, which said that as many 56 council members of the Ichalkaranji city council were offered money, property and junkets for voting Shahar Vikas Aghadi, an alliance of rebel Congress councillors, Jan Surajya Shakti and other independent councillors. As Patil’s RTI applications started to expose the local politicians, he started receiving threats.

“Last week, my brother received an abusive call. He challenged the caller to meet him near the Shahu Maharaj statue and went there. But the caller did not turn up. On Saturday, too, he received one such call and again he went to the statue. This time, however, he went there alone and was killed by a couple of people,” Patil’s elder brother Pratap said.

He said though the police have arrested two persons for killing his brother, the real culprit was still absconding. “ They are merely the assailants. Those who hatched the plot are still at large.

We have told the police about the suspects. My brother was running a campaign against them and they had even come for settlement.

He declined their offer,” Pratap added.

“ In July last year, Patil had written to the police that his campaign against corruption could endanger his life and had sought police protection. But nothing was done about it,” Raut said.

The Kurundwad police, who are investigating the case, said six persons were arrested in connection with Patil’s murder. “ We have arrested six persons — Rahulkumar Dhale ( 19), Srinivas Morkar ( 20), Dayanand Navle ( 29), Mahesh Vibhute ( 25), Gurunath Anant Mistri ( 25) and Satish Rajput ( 22). They have confessed to the crime. We have also confiscated the murder weapon. We are aware of the family’s allegations of political vendetta and have sought all the relevant documents from them. We are not ruling out a revenge killing at the moment,” said a police officer.

Avale and Handore were not available for comments. Awade, too, refused to comment saying he was busy in a function.

Supreme Court : “Criminal law has become an ass in the eyes of the public.”


Do not make law an ass: SC tells police

TIMES NEWS NETWORK 

New Delhi: A day after expressing concern over Delhi Police allowing murder convicts to roam free when they should be in jail, the Supreme Court on Tuesday discovered that the malady extended to Punjab and might well be in vogue in other parts of the country.

A vacation bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad was livid when it found that petitioner Charan Singh, whose conviction by the trial court for throwing acid on others had been confirmed by the Punjab and Haryana high court, was still free and had not been put behind bars by police.

“It is a matter of surprise that despite the trial court convicting the accused and the high court confirming the conviction four months ago, the police has not yet arrested the convict and put him behind bars,” the bench said and directed senior superintendent of police, Ludhiana, to immediately arrest Charan Singh and submit a report to the apex court.

The bench said such laxity on the part of the police had made the criminal justice system suspect in the eyes of the public. “Those who have clout, they flout the law,” it said.

“Criminal law has become an ass in the eyes of the public. We have an agency which is to arrest an accused after he is pronounced guilty by the court. If that is so, then how is it possible that the convicts are not arrested?” the bench said.

Trying to sensitise law enforcing agencies to the grave fallout of such inaction, the Bench said, “In this, case acid was thrown on several persons who are scarred for life. Their lives are ruined. Yet, the convict is roaming free.”

The Bench said Singh’s appeal challenging the HC verdict of February 2 would be heard only after the SSP of Ludhiana filed a report stating that the appellant had been lodged in prison.