ACB statistics reveal that the Oxford of the East has seen 216 corruption-related arrests against Mumbai’s 90; officials say the figures don’t tell the whole story as babus have not become less corrupt in the state capital, just more careful
If official corruption statistics are to be believed, Mumbai finally has some reason to cheer. From being among the top three most corrupt cities in the state last year, it has gone down plenty of notches to sit pretty at the 8th position based on the number of arrests in each city.
Government officials in Pune, the state’s educational capital also known as the Oxford of the East however, have added an unwanted feather in the city’s cap by catapulting it to the pole position in the state’s list of corrupt cities, as per statistics released for 2014 on the Anti-Corruption Bureau’s website.
Among departments, the usual contest for infamy between the revenue and police arms continued, with the former managing to edge out the latter to make it to the top this year.
And, in a sign of increasing corruption or the ACB’s increased vigilance or both, the arrests by the bureau have nearly doubled to 1189 from January to December 15 this year, compared to 586 in the same period last year. While the amount recovered by the ACB stands at Rs 2.48 crore, the amount sealed in disproportionate assets cases is Rs 133.39 crore.
Between the lines
The ACB has arrested around 216 government officials from Pune after registering nearly 203 cases of corruption in the city, making it the most corrupt city in Maharashtra this year. “It is shocking considering that Pune is considered an educational and cultural hub. But the statistics should also be looked at from the context of the development in the city.
The numerous IT hubs and other industries developing in Pune give government employees ample opportunities to accept under-the-table money,” said an ACB official. Nashik’s second rank also has a lot to do with the fact that the city is seeing rapid development. ACB officials, however, say that Mumbai’s ranking cannot be taken at face value.
“Please understand there is more awareness in a city like Mumbai and it does not mean that the government officials in the city are not corrupt, but that they are smarter and don’t get caught as easily. Officials in Mumbai have developed ingenious ways of taking bribes to not get caught as awareness of corruption and its consequences is much higher here.
This is a big factor behind cities like Amravati and Nanded being ranked as more corrupt than Mumbai. The media’s alertness is another factor,” said the ACB official.
The state revenue department topped the list of the corrupt with 410 people from the department getting arrested for accepting bribes and 312 cases being registered. There is always a competition of sorts between the police and revenue officials for the top slot, and while the state police department came out on top last year, it was unseated this year in terms of arrests.
“The decrease in corruption in the police department is due to the strict action being taken even against seniors if their juniors are caught taking bribes,” said a police officer. ACB officials said while the lack of education was a big factor in the panchayat samitis coming in third, municipal corporations took the fourth rank because people are afraid of complaining against officials there as they think their crucial files will get stuck.
Transfers are a major reason for the education department occupying the fifth rank, followed by the Maharashtra Rajya Vidyut Vitaran Company Ltd, zilla parishads, health department and others. “The media has been playing a very positive role. The number of traps laid for corrupt officials was doubled in Mumbai this year. Detecting and exposing corruption has been done well in other cities too,” said DG (ACB) Pravin Dixit.