No officer willing to head the section, say officials

With the Vigilance Section of the Madurai Corporation under lock and key during working hours on most days, brokers and touts are taking advantage of this situation and fleecing the public when they need birth or death certificates from the Corporation.

Senior officials told “The Hindu” on Wednesday that no officer is willing to head the section since the powers of a vigilance officer have been withdrawn for “strange reasons.”

“It is true that there are touts and brokers inside the Corporation, but we are helpless as the vigilance section is not vigilant enough to prevent corruption. When the vigilance officer does not have independent powers, why should there be a separate section?” a top official said on condition of anonymity.

Sanitary inspectors and other staff in the Corporation’s health wing are worried over the “open deals” taking place right under the nose of the Vigilance Section.

“I am a witness and I know who is taking bribes for issuing birth certificates. There is a huge rush now for certificates because this is school admission season and a couple of Corporation employees are minting money by exploiting their urgency,” a Health Inspector said.

Additional charge

The vigilance wing is in a pathetic state that an Assistant Commissioner who was asked to hold additional charge refused to do so but was forced to accept it.

“I have no interest at all in going to the vigilance section. Just because of pressure, I accepted but never went there,” said Ms. Chellammal, Assistant Commissioner (Zone-3).

According to official sources, the touts are now collecting Rs.750 as bribe to secure birth/death certificates. “A woman employee in the Corporation information centre and a despatch clerk in the records section have links with five brokers and they share the collection,” a sanitary inspector alleged.

The only work done by the section is to process the papers of retired employees who need the certification in order to get their pension.

An officer of the cadre of Deputy Commissioner said that the Corporation must have a “straightforward officer” to head the vigilance wing and he or she should not be reporting to the Commissioner.

“When the vigilance team does not have powers to send independent reports, there is no purpose. In Madurai Corporation, abruptly, the powers of a DC were withdrawn,” an official accused.

Separate staff needed

Sources said that the vigilance section needs to have separate staff since the workload in all departments had increased manifold and officers are unable to spare time to “trap and catch” culprits within the Corporation premises.

With regard to the bribery network for birth and death certificates, the officials of the civic body maintained that they could not take action against anyone as there was no written complaint.

“We all know that brokers use green ink and drag Mayors’ and councillors’ name for issuing applications. The best way to get rid of corruption is do a sting operation and arrest the guilty,” a health official said.

The Corporation issues nearly 200 birth and death certificates every day.

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