The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Graftbusters on Bengal beat

Calcutta confidential is the anti-corruption cry; hush, hush is the modus operandi.

A group of Calcuttans has quietly formed the West Bengal branch of Transparency International India. Affiliated to the Berlin-based, anti-corruption Transparency International, it promises to address all aspects of financial wrongdoing — from the hospital bed to the police station, the judicial corridors to the legislative offices.

The push for the Calcutta chapter was powered by a study conducted last year by Transparency International India and ORG-MARG, where the people’s perception of corruption pegs health as the “most corrupt sector” in the east, as opposed to police in the west.

“The formation of this group in West Bengal is a fallout of interaction with the Berlin-based Transparency International over the past couple of years. While we are part of the Indian chapter of Transparency International in principle and in modus operandi, we have formed a new organisation to ensure freedom of operation,” said the head of the Bengal chapter, not wishing to be named.

Twenty Calcuttans — from retired government officials to students — have already signed up at, as members of the fledgling organisation funded through “private and public sources”. The corruption combat path is being chalked out in Bengal.

“We have identified certain key sectors where the common people have the most interaction (read: health, police and education). We pinpoint the areas of corruption and tackle them accordingly,” explained the founder-member.

Once the documentation is done, the “appropriate authorities” will be approached for redress. “If that appeal falls on deaf ears, we will try to build public opinion through the media or we may even go to court,” the coordinator added.

The first complaint has been recorded from a remote village in Midnapore, about the siphoning-off of funds earmarked for a rural development project.

Next in line is the misappropriation of funds meant for rural solar electrification, by government officials.

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