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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Strong anti-graft law needed

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 13:21
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Considering the amount of corruption taking place in almost all Government departments in Nagaland, it is surprising that the State Vigilance Commission (SVC) has only 83 cases under investigation and another 18 cases under trial in the court. It is also not an achievement (as the SVC has put it) that the commission had recovered nearly Rs 1.8 crore during investigation considering that the magnitude of corruption in the State might cross more than Rs 1000 crore. There is also no surprise in the disclosure made by DIGP Vigilance, I Meyionen that the Department of Health & Family Welfare has the highest number of cases under investigation (15 cases out of 83) followed closely by School Education and PWD with 10 cases each. Rather looking at the depilated conditions of Government health centres, including district hospitals, condition of Government schools and the non-existing roads in the State, the cases under investigations against these departments should practically have been much more. State Vigilance Commissioner KT Sukhalu assertion at the Vigilance Awareness Week programme at Kohima on October 30 that "corruption is not a new phenomenon in Naga society" is perhaps a reflection on the performance of the commission. If corrupt activities in the State is not new, and has been continuing over the year, what is the vigilance commission doing? Blaming the public along with the Government equally responsible for the mass corruption in the State, as the commissioner said, does not make the commission blameless, whatever constraints it might be facing in the course of doing its duty. Also we do not need the Vigilance Commission to tell us that corruption has not only affected development and economic growth in the State and that it has destroyed our environment as well. Had our institutions like municipal/town councils, revenue department, etc not been involved in massive corruption, our water bodies would not have been under threat today. Had the illegal constructions not been allowed, there would not have been floods in Dimapur every year during summer. Had there been transparency in selection of Indira Awas Yojna (IAY) beneficiaries, many families would not have been deprived of this rural housing scheme? Had forest officials not been collaborators in timber smuggling, we would not have lost most of our forests cover. Had our engineers and contractors not taken and given bribes, our roads would not have been in shambles as it is today. But is the Government and its agencies seriously focusing on curbing corruption and ensuring access to justice. Looking at the state of affairs, it is apparent that our Government is not serious in tackling the menace of corruption. No wonder, today there is widespread belief that making the State free from corruption is now a war that can never be fought, not to speak of winning. Not just because the menace has spread tentacles too deep, but for the reason that the Government is not ready to launch an honest, concerted, result oriented crusade against corruption. Sure, Chief Minister TR Zeliang through his speeches appears to be concerned over the affliction of corruption in the State, but his high pitched anti-graft talk has proved nothing more than rhetoric. Today each political party in the State has the dubious distinction to hoodwink people into believing that if voted to power, it would take out the State from the deep morass of corruption. But after assuming power, the promise vanishes into thin air as the same politicians show a proclivity to plunder and loot. In their cozy rooms they think of amassing wealth and continue with weak anti-graft law. There is an important question for the Chief Minister; if he is sincere to walk the talk, then he has to open the cases of corruption against tainted employees that lay buried in the files of general administration department. If he spares some sincerity for fighting corruption on which he speaks so consistently, he has to act swiftly. The Government need to take note of how corruption has damaged the moral fabric of the society, and come out from the dormancy before it will be too late to act against growing corruption. The evil of corruption has taken the shape of a monster, and the law that the State needs to deal with this monster should have stronger teeth. 

 


  Vigilance Week Irresponsible citizenry