The Odisha government has been in a belligerent mood against the corrupt. Those with tainted backgrounds and compromised integrity are being dealt with an iron hand. Almost on a daily basis, the anti-corruption wing of the state government has been going after a big catch. One of the latest—which also made a huge splash—was a deputy manager of the Odisha State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation who was found to have amassed assets close to Rs 15 crore.
Pratap Kumar Samal’s disproportionate assets were calculated at over 1,000% of the known sources of his income, one of the highest registered in the state. Starting his career as a junior engineer with the state PSU, Samal reached the deputy manager rank eight years ago. He and his kin had over `1.6 crore deposited in their bank accounts. The officer had so much cash stashed at his residence that he even tried to throw a bagful when the vigilance sleuths started the raid. The list of such cases has only got longer with the Naveen Patnaik government going after the corrupt. From those in the grassroot administrative positions to all India service officers, none is being spared. One of them was an Indian Forest Service officer Abhay Kant Pathak, who was arrested last year.
Naveen’s zero tolerance to lack of integrity and efficiency has seen over 130 officers either handed out dismissal letters or sent on compulsory retirement. The crusade against the corrupt must not be compromised. But his government would also do well to go after corruption, and not just the corrupt. How can a deputy manager accumulate so much money without the system helping him? Or for that matter, take Pathak, who was in a key position in the forest department overseeing massive afforestation programmes of the state. How did he make over Rs 9.35 crore during his career, of which he is alleged to have even spent a third on chartered flights in a single year, if he did not abuse his official position? That’s where the state attack must focus. Corruption is a blight on the socio-economic development of a society. The potent option would be to address the cause of the disease and not just eliminate the symptoms.