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Union cracks down on graft

Imphal, Oct. 5: An employees’ organisation of Manipur’s excise department today urged chief secretary Rakesh Sharma to check assets and also verify the integrity of officers of the department.

“The chief secretary should initiate checking of assets and verify the integrity of officers posted at the head office of our department, from top (excise commissioner) to officers in-charge,” said Athokpam Kiran Singh, organisation in-charge of the Anti-Corruption Front of the department.

The Front acts as a trade union congress. It works with citizens to create awareness among the masses about the ills of corruption and social evils.

Officers and lower-level employees are members of the organisation. Singh alleged that corruption, going hand in hand with lack of infrastructure, has hampered the working of the department.

Citing an example of financial irregularities, the official said the department had failed to pay money to members of the contingent that took part in the Republic Day parade.

“We know that the government sanctioned money for payment to the members of the contingent as incentives, but the amount was not distributed,” Singh charged.

Demanding the posting of a new commissioner instead of the present incumbent K. Pamei, Singh cautioned the government that unless the functioning of the department was streamlined, it would meet the fate of Manipur Road Transport Corporation, which was abolished some years back.

Alleging that the government was neglecting the department, he said Manipur’s was the most ineffective excise department among all the northeastern states. “The Mizoram excise department is equipped with sophisticated weapons, provided with secret funds for information gathering and adequate vehicles. This makes the Mizoram department one of the best,” he said.

As weapons were not provided to the personnel of the Manipur excise department, they could not effectively enforce the prohibition, Singh said.

The department did not have enough vehicles to track down bootleggers.

“When an offender fails to listen to orders, excise officials could use weapons to force him. As we do not have weapons, many offenders escape,” he said.

Manipur was declared dry with effect from 1991 during the R.K. Ranbir Singh government.

When the department was shifted from the home department to the finance department about three decades ago, the weapons provided to the personnel were deposited to the police. Since then the department is unarmed, Singh said.

He said with adequate infrastructure and streamlining the functioning of the department, it could effectively enforce prohibition and also earn revenues by imposing fines on violators.

He also demanded timely promotion of the employees, saying that it would go a long way in ensuring smooth functioning of the department.

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