Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal became Assam’s first Head of the state from the Bharatiya Janata Party when he was sworn-in on May 24, 2016. He assured to clean up governance and streamline the Bureaucratic system of the state. To do so, he constituted the Chief Minister’s Special Vigilance Cell (CM’s SVC), Assam, headed by a Superintendent of Police. The team is said to be causing sleepless nights to many of the government employees.
It may be mentioned that the Cell which has its jurisdiction throughout the State of Assam was created in the year 1984 with its Headquarters at Guwahati. The main objective of the creation of this Cell was to enquire and investigate into the special and sensitive offences committed by the State Government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (Amended in 1988), offences U/S 406 to 409 IPC, 417 to 420 IPC, 417 to 477(A) IPC and also under Official Secrets Act, 1923, only when referred to by the Chief Minister of Assam.
The team on April 11, 2017 had raided at the office of the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) in Guwahati for consecutive third day in connection with a Rs 31 crore scam during the previous Congress led state government’s tenure and had grilled director Ranjit Gogoi at his office for several hours.
The vigilance official, SP K Choudhury said that, Ranjit Gogoi had siphoned several crores of rupees in the name of a firm Nandita Creations, a firm which was created in his wife’s name.
Earlier, the sleuths of the CM’s vigilance had seized five trunks of files from the office in connection with the scam.
A top official of CM’s vigilance said that, the previous Congress government had allocated Rs 31 crore in budget for Vision Assam Mission Assam project to publicize the government schemes. Subsequently the work orders were awarded to Tatua agency for hoarding, Brahmaputra Television Network, Delta Publicity and Pradip Advertising for advertising in print and electronic media. They are four amongst 15 agencies, which participated in the tender process.
In yet another incident on April 11, 2017 the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (V&AC) of Assam police had arrested an official of agriculture department in Guwahati, while the official was taking a bribe from a person in his office. According to the reports, the V&AC team arrested Durgaram Baruah, an agriculture inspector red handed with Rs 7,000 cash from the office of the District Agriculture Officer in Kamrup.
A top official of V&AC said that, the agriculture department official had taken the bribe for giving a permit to a fertilizer selling shop.
It may also recalled that the very first breakthrough to eradicate corruption was the arrest of Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) Chairman, Rakesh Paul on November 4, 2016 on charges of involvement in irregularities while in office, has come as a huge blow to the integrity of the state as a whole. According to Assam Police, a team of Dibrugarh Police had been camping in Guwahati after the October 27 arrest of a Town and Country Planning Department engineer while accepting Rs 10 lakh. Accused Naba Kumar Patir was caught accepting the cash from a dentist, whom he allegedly promised a government job through the APSC. Mamud Hussain, Personal Security officer (PSO) of commission member Samedur Rahman, was subsequently arrested.
As CM’s vigilance team continues to unearth all malpractices, for the general masses all such are just temporary solutions, also the employment racket will have its own means to reach the victim, and therefore, the state government should focus on job creation, encourage skill development or even advanced skill development. The educational institutions should implement the proposal of the University Grants Commission (UGC) in making a vocational subject compulsory in high school and the higher secondary level which can help the students in acquiring the graduation in Bachelor of Vocation (B.Voc.).
Here in Meghalaya, one of the government organs - Meghalaya Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), instead of organizing district level fairs, should re-introduce Entrepreneurship Development Training to qualified youths in various trades who in turn can be self employed and also provide employment. At the same time, the Corporation must upgrade the list of industries feasible to be set up in the state, keeping in mind the available raw materials and skills. It is futile to simply put up the list which is not at all applicable in the state.
A counsellor for preparing new Project Reports, conduct market survey and explore new avenues needs to be put in place in every district, under MIDC, to enable the youth to explore the possibility of opening up new ventures and generate employment.
The state government should instruct the Banking and other financial institutions to reduce car loans and instead encourage industrial loans to enable the young entrepreneurs to set up industries, firms, or even enterprises. At the same time the Meghalaya Industrial Policy 2012 needs a relooked and made people friendly.
Unless there is an alternative for employment, all the qualified youth will surely try all methods of up-man-ship to get employed as it is also widely known that many candidates who qualify for the DSC examinations are still waiting for their respective appointment.
The government must act before unemployment turns ugly in the state and simple cautions to the public warning it of employment rackets is not at all the solution, because one cannot teach a hungry man. How can one preach to the unemployed youth about the Government institutions which are governed by specific rules and regulations when the employment processes are not transparent?
The Meghalaya government too should be as daring as the Assam Chief Minister, who is all out to expose and punish the officials once found guilty of misappropriation of public funds. If all state governments follow the same, the nation will regain trust and confidence as will other countries, on the Indian system.