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State can't turn a blind eye to lies about wealth

The government always needs a scam to tighten the noose around its corrupt employees

The government always needs a scam to tighten the noose around its corrupt employees. Each time a government employee is arrested for possessing disproportionate assets, the state government makes it mandatory for all of them to register their assets. But the actual rule that can help curb such corruption is always disregarded.

The ACB’s records for 2013 show that eight PWD officials are under the scanner for owning disproportionate assets valued at a total of Rs 17.87 crore. Following close on the PWD’s heels are the municipal corporations across the state. Inquiry on three officials has unearthed illegitimate assets worth Rs 1.27 crore while three RTO officials were booked for owning Rs 1.24 crores in assets.

Under the Service Conduct Rules, it is mandatory for all government employees to furnish a statement containing details of movable and immovable assets at the time of joining, and an annual update is needed thereafter. In case of default, the government can take appropriate action. But the government has always turned a blind eye to this significant mandate.

In May 2013, when the ACB arrested two Public Works Department engineers in Nashik who had amassed movable and immovable assets disproportionate to their official income, the government reinforced the existing rule, asking state employees to disclose purchases of any immovable asset that costs twice their basic salary.

The employees were asked to take prior permission for any transaction involving a person/trader/contractor who does business with his/her office. But once the reports of the arrests started dwindling in the media, things were back to square one.

Not a single department — whether it is the municipal corporation, police department, RTO or PWD — have taken any note of this existing guideline. While few states have made it compulsory for all employees to declare assets, it is high time the Maharashtra government reinforces this basic order with utmost seriousness.

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