Surprise checks were conducted at the board’s regional offices at Basaveshwaranagar and Peenya

The Lokayukta police seized over Rs. 9 lakh unaccounted cash from four employees of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) central office here on Saturday.

The search in the chamber of board chairman A.S. Sadashivaiah went on till late night.

A press release from the Lokayukta said Environmental Officer Gurumurthy was found to have Rs. 5 lakh, clerk Diwakar Rs. 3 lakh, Chief Environmental Officer M.N. Jayaprakash Rs. 58,000 and a peon, whose name was not given, had Rs. 42,500 in his stool-cum-box. All the four had been arrested, the release said.

Surprise checks

Lokayukta Additional Director-General of Police H.N. Satyanarayana Rao said surprise checks were conducted at the board’s regional offices at Basaveshwaranagar and Peenya. A team of 11 police inspectors and three deputy superintendents of police conducted the search, which was monitored by Superintendent of Police P.K. Shivashankar, Mr. Rao said.

Sources in the Lokayukta told The Hindu that the office had been receiving several complaints from industrialists and others about the rampant corruption at the office of the pollution control board. Large sums of money were being demanded and collected for issue/renewal of licences, no-objection certificates etc., by officials, the sources said. Though the board has several regional offices across the State, licences were issued only from the central office, Parisara Bhavana, located on Church Street. On Saturday, according to complaints received by the Lokayukta officials, over Rs. 25 lakh was collected as bribe and some of the aggrieved licence-seekers approached the Lokayukta police.

“By the time we planned the raid, it was afternoon and we could find only about Rs. 9 lakh,” the sources said. Though no cash was found in Mr. Sadashivaiah’s office, investigation will continue on Sunday too on files found in his chamber, the sources maintained.

In a hurry

Meanwhile, according to sources in the board the chairman left the office in a hurry around 2 p.m., about an hour before the raids commenced. Repeated calls and text messages to Mr. Sadashivaiah by this correspondent went unanswered.

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