Mumbai: That the project incharge of Mumbai-Nagpur Express way Radheyshyam Mopalwar has been removed from the post after an audio of him allegedly discussing ‘kickback’ went public, more serious information has cropped up. It has now come to light that the Maharashtra government was apprised about the allegations against Mopalwar since December 2016, from central level authorities as high as Prime Minister’s Office, Central ministries, the Income Tax Department and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The government was also served repeated reminders about inquiring disproportionate assets of Mopalwar, but all the communication was noticeably ignored, allegedly to save the day for Mopalwar.
This has raised serious questions about the intent of Maharashtra government behind defending Mopalwar. Is there is something more than what meets the eye?
Solid proof against Mopalwar
As per the report published in The Hindu, the PMO had sent an online complaint against Mopalwar in December 2016 to the General Administration Department — which is headed by the CM — through the Centralised Public Grievance Redress and Monitoring System. No action was taken. Then, Verghese Joseph, Deputy Director (Vigilance), at the Income Tax department’s headquarters in Delhi, sent a letter marked ‘confidential’ and dated February 3, 2017, addressed to the Director General (Investigations) of Income Tax. “I am directed to forward herewith copy of letter dated 25.01.2017 in respect of disproportionate assets and tax evasion by Shri Radheshyam Laxmanrao Mopalwar, VC and MD, MSRDC,” said the letter. The letter had a copy of a list of allegations against Mopalwar, and two CDs describing his alleged ‘benami’ properties and recordings of his telephonic conversations of a dubious nature.
CM’s Home Department too remained inactive
Less than two weeks later, on February 15, 2017, the superintendent of police of the CBI’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) sent a letter to the Director General, ACB, Maharashtra police. The letter said, “Please find enclosed herewith a complaint in original received from Shri Anil Anna Gote, MLA, Dhule, which is self explanatory” and asked the DG to take necessary action as the ‘suspect is an IAS officer of Maharashtra government.’ The Home department too is headed by the CM himself.
Trail of complaints continues…
Less than a week later, on February 20, 2017, K.C. Raju, Under-Secretary of the Department of Personnel & Training, sent a letter to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, regarding a complaint of amassing disproportionate wealth worth Rs 800 crore, filed by BJP MLA Anil Gote. The letter said, “The GoM is requested to kindly examine the matter and to furnish a factual report to this department immediately.” On June 15, 2017, the Deputy Director of Income Tax (Vig.) (HQ) sent another letter to the Director General of Income Tax (Inv.), which said, ‘‘in case involvement of any officer or official is found, during the course of investigation of the above complaint, the same may kindly be intimated to this office at the earliest.’’
Why Maharashtra DGP did not act in time
Apart from these allegations of corruption, documents available with The Hindu show that Maharashtra’s Home ministry, which is headed by the CM, in a letter dated January 9, 2017, had asked the Maharashtra DGP to take action against the officer. The letter refers to another complaint from Gote, where he had alleged that Mopalwar was involved in kidnapping, robbing and torturing one Satish Mangle. “CM has asked for urgent and appropriate Inquiry from crime branch,” said the letter. No action has been taken since.
The deep slumber
Mangle’s online complaint, which was filed with Centre’s Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, was also transferred to Bhagwan Sahai, Additional Chief Secretary (Maharashtra GAD) on June 7, 2017. The letter accompanying the transfer of the complaint said, “Citizens are advised to take up matter regarding pendency of their grievances directly with the state government concerned.” No action has been taken yet. Gote confirmed to this newspaper that he had filed the complaints and that he continues to fight against corrupt officials. “If the officer is wrong, he must be punished,” he said. He wondered whether the bureaucracy is trying to help Mr. Mopalwar by not making inquiries into the charges against him. Mangle said that senior IAS officers have been aware about the matter for months, and have taken no action. “They should have informed CM about the cases,” he said.
When asked about the allegations, Mopalwar said, “Whatever inquiries are referred to are in the public domain, and are official records. I’ve no comments on that.”
Many IAS officers on wrong side
The recent cash for transfer scam that rocked the State along with the Mopalwar’s alleged involvement in big bribe case are not the sole cases that has tarnished the image of state government. Sources alleged that there are many more IAS officers that are being fended for their corrupt practices, for vested interests of those sitting in the corridors of power. For example the cash for transfer scam. What’s the current status of inquiry? Nobody knows. Insiders claim that owing to the role of senior officers in the cash for transfer scam it was covered up, deliberately at the behest of state’s top most politico. This is just a tip of iceberg. Indepth inquiry may lead expose big bureacrat-politician nexus! Provided if someone takes initiative, if he feels that he is clean.