Staff Correspondent

However, he wants an assurance that action will be taken against corrupt officials

God has given me good health, and I am committed to fighting corruption I can work relentlessly despite my age The Lokayukta should be able to initiate action against higher officials Ministers should be made responsible for corruption in their departments

HASSAN: Lokayukta N. Venkatachala has said he is prepared to continue in office for another term in public interest, but the Government should assure him that action will be taken against corrupt officials caught by the authority. The Lokayukta should be given suo motu powers to initiate proceedings against higher officials, he has said.

Mr. Venkatachala, who is touring Hassan district, told The Hindu that he recently wrote to Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy in that regard. "The Government will not lose anything by meeting these two requirements, which will help cleanse government machinery. If the Government is committed to ending corruption, it will consider my demands," he said.

He said eradication of corruption was a demanding task. "Fortunately, God has given me good health, and I am committed to the cause. I can work relentlessly despite my age (76), provided the Government acts on my proposal," he added. Mr. Venkatachala said the Government seemed committed to fighting corruption and it appeared to be in favour of accepting his demands. "It is better for the Government to consider my proposal as the Lokayukta has brought corruption under control to some extent. Any wrong step will vitiate the situation."

He said that earlier, he found it difficult to secure files from departments as the authorities did not heed orders. "The situation has changed, and I am now in a position to call for files in one day," he added.

About major obstacles, he said: "When we try to initiate action against offenders, our efforts are often frustrated. It is the responsibility of the Government to initiate action against the accused on the basis of material supplied by the Lokayukta."

Mr. Venkatachala said he was aware that people at the helm of affairs were responsible for the increasing cases of corruption, and that was why he always aimed at making the guilty reveal the reason why they had accepted bribes. "In most cases, during my recent raids, guilty officials disclosed that they had to share the booty. I wrote to Mr. Kumaraswamy recently to hold Ministers responsible for corruption in their departments," he said.

He admitted it was difficult to inquire into corruption in high places, where deals were struck for awarding contracts and purchasing machinery. He said it was the responsibility of those who had information about corrupt deals to pass it on to the Lokayukta. "In one instance, I received a petition about a deal struck for the purchase of medical equipment, and I wrote to the Minister concerned. The deal was cancelled," he added.

Mr. Venkatachala said that it was not easy to eradicate corruption, which was deep-rooted in the system. In his four-and-a-half years in office, he had looked into more than 50,000 cases of misconduct and complaints from members of the public.