THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Kerala Police Chief Loknath Behera is in the dock after a report by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) accused him of diversion of funds and violation of norms in purchases.
According to the performance audit report, the money used for constructing five villas at Bhaktavilasom police quarters in Thiruvananthapuram was meant for staff quarters for 30 upper subordinates (Sub-Inspector and Assistant Sub-Inspector). The report found that the Police Chief diverted Rs 2.81 crore for the purpose. The decision to redesign the project and fund diversion happened between November 4, 2017, and August 2018, Accountant General (General and Social Sector Audit) S Sunil Raj told media persons.
Despite objections raised by the finance department, Behera requested his decision to construct five villas be ratified.
For CAG, this request was unacceptable as the modernisation of police force (MOPF) guidelines clearly stated that the benefit was meant for upper subordinates.
Behara, a 1985-batch IPS officer, is due for retirement in 2021.
Supercop and his supercars
The report has also questioned Behera's penchant for spending lavishly on vehicles instead of using the funds meant for improving the operational effectiveness of the force. MOPF guidelines prohibit the procurement of cars
The police stations are grappling with a shortfall of vehicles. The report has stated that 15 per cent of the 269 light motor vehicles procured by the police department were luxury cars.
Furthermore, these cars were deployed for use of high-level officers and non-operational units like the CBCID and some of the high-end models were procured under the guise of mobile command and control vehicles.
The bullet-resistant vehicles, mean for operations in Naxal-infested areas, were deployed for VIP security.
The Missing Bullet
The audit report has also accused the police department of covering up the shortfall of ammunition in a joint verification conducted at Special Armed Police Battalion in Thiruvananthapuram. No action was taken against culprits responsible for the loss of ammunition. It has found that 25 INSAS rifles and 12,061 live cartridges were missing from the artillery.
The loss of arms and ammunition is a serious issue with implications on state security, the report has noted.
The delay in disposal of cases at Forensic Science Laboratories, irregularities in implementing the electronic beat system, flouting of store purchase manual in procurement, were among the lapses pointed out by the report.
CBI probe demanded
Congress MLA PT Thomas has demanded a CBI enquiry against State Police Chief Lokanath Behera for his alleged involvement in corruption. "There are concerns regarding huge purchases and constructions made by Lokanath Behera. A central agency such as CBI should investigate it." said Thomas. He further charged Behera of diverting central funds meant for anti-Maoist operations.
"He creates ad-hoc committees involving 'conferred' officers to approve the purchases he had already made. He makes 'deal' with companies interested in bidding," alleged Thomas, identifying ACS Technologies for its "undue" influence in police headquarters.
According to the MLA, Kerala Police Housing and Construction Corporation was not involved in several construction activities carried out by Behera.