Highlight on rot in forest dept with Odisha’s highest-ranked official’s arrest – india information

As Odisha vigilance division digs up extra particulars on the disproportionate property case of addl PCCF (principal chief conservator of forests) Abhay Kant Pathak, the highest-ranked forest official in Odisha to ever face a corruption case, Odisha vigilance data present not less than 82 forest officers from the state, starting from forest guard to CCF, have been accused of corruption in final 5 years.

A 1987 batch IFS officer of Odisha cadre, Pathak served as extra PCCF (plan, programme and afforestation) and was all set to turn out to be the subsequent principal chief conservator of forests from June subsequent yr as per his seniority degree, until the vigilance officers raided his residence and different premises, accusing him of amassing disproportionate property price Rs 9.35 crore, which was 435 % of his whole revenue.

Vigilance division officers stated the quantity is the very best disproportionate asset amassed by any forest officer of Odisha until date. Arrested alongside along with his son Akash Pathak, who has been charged with duping many job aspirants with the false promise of employment in Tata Motors in lieu of cash, the father-son duo is prone to keep behind bars for a while, stated vigilance officers.

Whereas Pathak is the topmost forest official to be charged with corruption in Odisha, vigilance data present 82 forest officers have been charged with instances of corruption in final 5 years.

In August this yr, Alok Ranjan Hota, divisional forest officer of Chilika Wildlife Division was discovered to be in possession of disproportionate property price Rs 77 lakh. In February 2016, vigilance seized Rs 1.10 crore money from Athgarh DFO Sudhanshu Sekhar Mishra, whereas in February 2017, Sarat Chandra Panda, DFO of Khariar, was arrested by vigilance dept on fees of getting disproportionate property of Rs four.5 crores. In March 2017, DFO Mahadeb Badaika, working in works division, was raided in disproportionate property case.

Apart from, there have been quite a few forest guards, vary officers and forest rangers, foresters, junior clerks within the forest division accused of corruption in final the 5 years.

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Environmentalists alleged that the forest division has turn out to be a hub of corruption the place official are defalcating cash from a number of state forest-related schemes in addition to from profitable postings like Kendu-leaf and mining divisions.

“Corruption is commonly linked with lengthy tenures of officers /employees past the conventional posting interval of three years. Fairly often folks in profitable posts pay heavy bribes or use political affect to make sure that they aren’t transferred. This is without doubt one of the chief breeding grounds for corruption. There are quite a few instances of Vary Officers posted for so long as 5-6 years in the identical put up. DFOs/vary officers who’re on the “Agreed Checklist” or “Uncertain Integrity Checklist” ready by the vigilance are given profitable area posts the place the scope of corruption is excessive. A strict coverage needs to be to not put up such officers to any key posts within the area or permit them to deal with enormous sums of cash,” stated environmental activist Biswajit Mohanty.

Pathak, who labored as extra PCCF of afforestation and planning within the state forest division since June 2018, was answerable for an enormous finances for afforestation that included cash from CAMPA fund, NREGS in addition to plantation below state schemes. In the course of the present monetary yr 2020-21, the state forest division had formulated forestry tasks of Rs 602 crores below NREGA that included plantations of round 40,000 hectares of space, 5,000 kilometer avenue plantation and distribution of three.5 crore seedlings. In 2019, Centre had launched Rs 5,933 crore of CAMPA fund to Odisha, the very best amongst all states.

Neither state forest secretary Mona Sharma nor principal chief conservator of forest Sandip Tripathy responded to queries on the steps being taken to cleanse the forest division of corrupt officers.

RTI activist Pradip Pradhan, who has been looking for particulars about varied expenditures of forest division, stated whereas the forest officers had scope for amassing cash from smuggling of precious timbers and forests merchandise, permitting mine house owners to extract mineral in forest areas and permit unlawful commerce in Kendu leaves, the failure of vigilance division to convict them was the key deterrence.

“The vigilance division has a poor monitor file in the case of conviction. It creates a sensation throughout arrest and lodging of instances in opposition to officers, however its paperwork could be very poor. Consequently, instances don’t stand in courtroom of legislation,” stated Pradhan.

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