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Graft-buster sent packing without reason

Malda, Dec. 8: Weeks after chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's call to bureaucrats to work fearlessly and weed out corruption, a treasury officer who launched a campaign against fake claims has been transferred out of the district.

Gobinda Basak, who took over as the officer-in-charge of one of the two treasuries in Malda a year ago, recovered Rs 2 crore during his drives to check illegally drawn house rent allowances and bogus pension claims.

He has now been asked to report for duty at the Durgapur Municipal Corporation and work as the finance officer. The order, issued by the finance department, cites no reason for the transfer.

A distraught Basak has decided to quit the state financial services seven years before he is due to retire. But he said he will first write to the chief minister about the treatment meted out to him.

In his verbal appeal to Malda district magistrate Ashok Bala, the senior accounts officer said: “I have worked for 34 years and I cannot accept this sudden transfer order. I have a wife who is suffering from cancer, my daughter is in Calcutta and my only son lives in the US. My wife teaches in a school here and needs periodic medical check-ups in Mumbai. If I am transferred, who will look after her'”

Basak has also sent an appeal to the joint secretary, finance (audit). Bala was all praise for Basak but said he did not take transfer decisions. “I have always been satisfied with the way Gobinda Basak has been discharging his duties. But transfers can be made at any point of time. It is the government's prerogative.”

He added that Basak had been successful in stopping overdraw of funds from the treasury. “He stopped people from drawing rent without reason, but once again I have nothing to say about the transfer as it is a government decision,” Bala said. Basak had shot into the news when he froze the pay of a large number of school teachers who had been illegally claiming extra pay and house rent allowance. The teachers, finding the officer too tough to hoodwink, had returned the money they had drawn.

The officer cracked down on employees in other departments who had been similarly collecting money illegally. He even managed to get back unutilised pension funds lying in banks. An MLA who had been living in a government housing complex and at the same time drawing house rent did not elude the scanner. Not only did the MLA stop drawing the allowance, Basak managed to get back the entire amount the legislator drew.

Basak’s colleagues expressed “surprise” at the transfer order.

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