Lokayukta to probe Rs 32-crore forest dept scam

 The Lokayukta police has been directed to investigate the alleged misappropriation of funds to the tune of Rs 32 crore, released for afforestation and maintenance in Gulbarga district.

The Forest department officials in Gulbarga allegedly misappropriated the funds between 2001 and 2011. As a result, the department now has only 3.1 per cent of forest cover to show against it claims of as high as 33 per cent.

Advocate Dr Raju Kulgeri filed a complaint when Lokayukta Justice Y Bhaskar Rao visited the district in July 2013. The deputy conservator of forests denied the allegations and stated that the money spent had been accounted for.

A Lokayukta committee comprising two private persons suggested by the complainant, the deputy conservator of forests, and the deputy superintendent of police, Gulbarga, inspected the afforested area and submitted a report.

“Members of the committee Mallinath Cheela and Sidramappa Patil Gangepur submitted reports stating that the Forest department officials have failed to produce documents, cheques and receipts with regard to the work carried out by them and they did not show any spot for inspection. 

Meanwhile DySP, Lokayukta, Gulbarga also submitted a joint inspection report on July 31, stating that complete records pertaining to spending of the sanctioned funds were not produced. The report said that there has been misappropriation of funds provided for afforestation and maintenance,” a press release stated.

Since the report does not point at anyone in particular, the Lokayukta has directed the ADGP Lokayukta to “take action under the relevant provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and other relevant law and to investigate the scam.” A senior Lokayukta official said that an FIR will be registered in this regard.

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