CM’s instruction: no vendetta but don’t spare the corrupt
Preventive vigilance is new mantra of Punjab VB
Bringing ongoing official works under VB radar, says chief BK Uppal
By Baljit Balli
Chandigarh, May 6, 2017: Like in the case of wheat procurement, and for ongoing cleaning work of canals, Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) is working on the strategy of conducting preventive checking or supervision of current works of other state departments. The process of allotting work tenders in Irrigation, PWD and other departments may also be covered soon under this.
“The guiding principle is taking preventive measures to stop corrupt practices,” said Barjinder Kumar Uppal, Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau in an exclusive chat with babushahi.com at his office in the state capital.
On the instructions of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the VB is on way to bring about a fundamental change and reorient its working by placing premium on such prior steps to prevent the crimes which may minimize possibility of corruption.
“Getting people convicted for acts of corruption is an integral aspect of our mandate but at the same time preventing corruption at the first stage too is equally important,” said Uppal while defining his new mantra.
To support his contention, he cited the positive results of his bureau’s supervision of the wheat procurement in the state’s grain markets. The incidence of complaints of mismanagement or corruption by concerned officials drastically came down. The deterrence became possible because the word had gone out that they were being monitored on the spot.
It should be expected that similar method could work in the case of canals cleaning work in terms of reducing the scope of fake billing besides improving the quality of work, he observed.
For Uppal, the internal vigilance structure within the government departments needs to be optimally strengthened to control corruption and other irregularities. Every government department dealing in public works has its own vigilance cell headed by a chief vigilance officer. “Efforts are on to devise a mechanism to ensure a live coordination between the Vigilance Bureau and these departments' officers,” he disclosed.
The VB has its disposal services of civil officers and experts’ wings to investigate economic offences and irregularities but the police officials have the expertise and experience of catching the accused and conducting criminal investigation, said the VB chief in response to a query on how working style of VB can be expected to change as most of its officials come from the state police.
Having worked at important positions in the state VB during the previous term of Amarinder government, Uppal shared satisfaction over more than 37 percent conviction rate in vigilance cases but, at the same time, rued delay resulting in prolonged court procedure. “The biggest problem is of witnesses turning hostile,” he noted.
On allegations of ruling parties in the past misusing the VB for political vendetta, Uppal said that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had given clear instructions on this issue. “The CM’s brief is to deal all cases strictly on merit .No vendetta but, at the same time, not to spare the corrupt,” he said.
A 1991-batch IPS officer Uppal said steps were being taken to ensure easier public access to the VB. A toll-free number has been activated resulting in increasing number of daily complaints.
He appreciated DGP Suresh Arora, his predecessor at VB, for simplifying the procedure of issuing NoC by VB to retiring government employees and their department. Now the details of pending vigilance case or investigation against any employee are posted on the VB’s website. This removes necessity of seeking NoC by other retiring employees.
Edited by Raju Willliam, Associate Editor at babushahi.com