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Tainted officials suspended in Silchar

Silchar, May 7: Three officials of the scam-prone irrigation department in Barak valley districts, including an executive engineer now posted here, were placed under suspension in an order issued in Dispur by the secretary of the state irrigation department, Tilak Chandra Das, on Monday.

They were suspended for their alleged role in the Rs 4-crore financial scandal, which involved the “misappropriation of funds” and siphoning it of in their respective personal coffers.

Nakul Chandra Das, superintending engineer of Barak circle of the state irrigation department, today confirmed this order of suspension to this correspondent, adding that he was awaiting the arrival of the official note of this suspension order from Dispur.

The suspended officials include the then executive engineer of the Hailakandi district irrigation office Utpal Choudhury, an SDO of the department Dipak Goswami and a junior engineer, Debabrata Shi.

The scam relates to the alleged flouting of rules and financial misappropriation in the execution of the Rs 8.55-crore lift irrigation project in Harishnagar village, under Katlichhera block in Hailakandi district.

According to the district irrigation sources, till March 31, 2011, 80 per cent of the allotted funds for this lift irrigation scheme was withdrawn for the alleged payment to the contractors, but such payments were enacted only on paper instead of being properly executed.

It was officially stated that only 15 per cent of this irrigation scheme had been accomplished.

The scam came to light when a senior grade junior engineer in the irrigation department in Hailakandi district, Abdul Jalil Barbhuyan, who was peeved by this scandal at his office, drew the matter to the attention of the authorities in the higher circles in both Hailakandi and Guwahati.

Finding no positive response to his plea, he filed a case in Gauhati High Court in June last year seeking redressal.

The high court took up this case as a public interest litigation and asked the secretary of the state irrigation department to probe into the matter.

The mater then further crystallised when the All Assam Minority Students’ Union brought this scam to the notice of the chief minister’s vigilance and anti-corruption cell in December last year and a full-fledged probe was then set rolling.

The outcome of this probe resulted in the suspension of the officers in the irrigation department in Hailakandi, who now have been transferred to the circle office of the Cachar district irrigation department here.