Personnel told to raid corrupt officials or get transferred to hinterland

Just when it seemed the Karnataka Lokayukta had settled into a slumber, Additional Director-General of Police (Lokayukta) H.N. Satyanarayana Rao has cracked the whip and ordered his teams to come down heavily on corrupt officials.

Apparently unhappy with their performance, Mr. Rao has given two options to the police officials under his command — either conduct raids on corrupt officials or else get transferred to the hinterland. This, in the context of a sharp decline in the quality of anti-corruption cases registered and the number of raids conducted over the last few months.

To press home his point, Mr. Rao chaired a meeting of superintendents of police and other officials recently and instructed them to come up with worthwhile cases.

According to a senior Lokayukta official, the ADGP has decided to assess the performance of each police official. Only those who have performed well — in terms of quality and number of cases — would be retained. The non-performers would be transferred to district headquarters.

The Lokayukta police wing, which is facing a shortage of staff, had performed better last year with a record number of raids on allegedly corrupt officials.

Credibility of the anti-corruption body largely depends on consistent performance by its police. Else, a perception will spread that the Lokayukta police are either incompetent or hand in glove with corrupt officials, an insider said.

Another ‘son’ rise in JD(S)?

The Janata Dal (Secular) is often ridiculed by other political parties as a “father-children party”. JD(S) supremo and former Prime Minster H.D. Deve Gowda and his sons take active part in decision-making in the party, which is a power to reckon with in south Karnataka.

In the recent times, several prominent leaders have deserted the party and only a few loyalists of Mr. Gowda have stayed back in north Karnataka. One of them, the former Minister Basavaraj Horatti, a prominent leader in north Karnataka, has decided to follow his leader in more ways than one.

Mr. Horatti, who has been elected to the Legislative Council from the Karnataka West Teachers constituency for a record sixth time and wields some influence with Mr. Gowda, is manoeuvring to get his son Vasanth Horatti recommended by local leaders as candidate for the election to the Council from the Karnataka West Graduates constituency.

Other aspirants, however, are questioning Mr. Vasanth Horatti’s contributions to the party. They say only Mr. Gowda has the authority to announce the name of the candidate. It remains to be seen whether Mr. Horatti, who is lobbying extensively for his son, will succeed in his attempts and trigger another ‘son’ rise in the JD(S).

MLAs crib against officials

The slow pace of relief work in the drought-hit villages of Belgaum division has angered not only the residents but also legislators. Ostensibly upset over the poor progress of relief works, Congress MLA and former Minister K.B. Koliwad demanded that deputy commissioners (DCs) be stripped off their powers to handle relief work. He suggested that funds under the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) be released to zilla panchayat chief executive officers. But the real reason for the anger against the DCs seems to be rejection of recommendations for relief by a task force led by Mr. Koliwad. Other MLAs concurred with Mr. Koliwad and petitioned Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister H.K. Patil when he chaired a meeting in Belgaum.

The legislators complained that DCs had been rejecting recommendations which in no way violated the CRF norms. The MLAs, irrespective of their political affiliation, told Mr. Patil that relief work had progressed slowly and people had been denied timely succour. To make matters worse, funds were not being released on time as the bureaucrats were preoccupied with meetings and other activities. “We are legislators and we feel highly irrelevant and powerless when our recommendations are turned down by an executive officer such as the Deputy Commissioner. The government should therefore release CRF funds to ZP CEOs who have better understanding about the problems in rural areas,” Mr. Koliwad said. Mr. Patil heard the legislators and promised to bring their complaints to the notice of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Borewell data exposes officials

Lower-level district officials, who used to fudge data, have stood exposed in the matter of drilling borewells in Kolar district. During a surprise visit to the Kolar Zilla Panchayat executive engineer’s office on May 8, Deputy Commissioner D.K. Ravi was shocked to see the quality of data maintained by officials on the number of borewells in the district.

The Deputy Commissioner found that the officials had not maintained details about the number of borewells drilled, those which were successful and those which had failed apart from the location and time the borewells were drilled (sourced from Global Positioning System device).

Accounts Officer Nagaraj and Assistant Engineer Appireddy had no answers to questions posed by the DC. An irked Mr. Ravi took the officials to task. He asked them to bring out a hard copy of the details entered in the computer. Though it was mandatory to use GPS devices to ensure the authenticity of the data on borewells, officials had ignored this as the old system enabled them to allegedly siphon of funds. To cross-check the data with reality, Mr. Ravi has now decided to carry out spot inspections of the borewells drilled since 2012.

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