Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Parasitic Disorder

A couple of weeks back when Barak Valley heavyweight Gautam Roy and Katigorah MLA Ataur Rehman Majharbhuiya got into an ugly argument at the Assam assembly alleging each other of indulging in corrupt practices, it was even more entertaining than the catfights we see every day on Reality TV shows. We, the common man, know very well that both were telling the truth. The only bone of contention is who is more corrupt than the other?

This argument prompted the Concern For Silchar team to dig deep into the issue of corruption which undoubtedly is the biggest malaise obstructing Barak Valley’s development. The revelations have been startling and shocking to say the least. In fact, corruption has become so deep rooted in all government activities that even an upright and honest Chief Minister would find it extremely difficult to stem the rot.   

In the road construction projects undertaken by the state government’s Public Works Department (PWD), often almost 60 percent of the total contract value vanishes as bribe or ‘commission’ as it is colloquially called in Dispur. This leaves only 40 percent for the actual implementation of the project. A casual conversation with a PWD contractor, who did not wish to be named, revealed that, the contracts for most major road projects of the state are bagged by an illegal syndicate of contractors who are mostly surrendered militants or political bigwigs.

However, for projects in ’remote’ locations such as Barak Valley, these contractors do not bother to execute the work themselves. So they charge about 20 percent of the contract value from some nameless sub contractors in the valley and ’sell’ them. Left with just 80 percent of the total amount, the sub contractor now spends another 20 percent at various tables of government employees for issuance of work order, clearance of site, issuance of quality certificate after the completion of work and preparation and release of the bill. After all the hard work, the poor soul must keep a profit of at least 20 percent. The rest of the amount is then used for road construction. If the project is multi crore, then the minister in charge, the local MLA, MP all get their due.

The problem with PWD is that it has a public face. At least some work has to be done to avoid public outcry. But some other departments such as Social Welfare have no such compulsions. There are no perimeters to check their performance. Hence, in such departments, the entire contract amount can be easily pocketed. The involvement of Dima Hasao District’s Joint Director, Social Welfare R. H Khan in a thousand crore scam proves the point.

Sadly, corporatisation of some other departments has hit the lootsters badly. For example, in the state’s electricity department, bribe of about 8 to 10 percent is enough. The corporatized company is now headed by civil service officers and the minister fails to take any share of the pie. The breakup of this commission raj in this department is tabulated below:

Purchase of tender document
Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000 extra depending on the contract value
Issue of work order
2 percent to the executive engineer in Guwahati (head office)
Site clearance
2 percent to Executive Engineer at site
Quality Certificate after work
2 percent to Executive Engineer
Preparation of bill
2 percent to the Junior Engineer
Passing of the bill for payment
1-2 percent to Superintending Engineer
*The data in above table are estimates gathered from different sources   

Note: Under the Package system, the Executive Engineer at head office takes the entire responsibility of passing of tender, work order and all other issues. He charges 10 percent for providing these ’single window’ services. 

The Education department is among the most corrupt and if the poor candidate is from Barak Valley, the harassment doubles. A friend of mine, whose father had passed away and his pension had to be cleared, was rudely told by a Babu in Janata Bhavan, “Lot of other people have also died before your father. If someone dies while in service, is it my fault?”. With such insensitivity prevailing, there doesn’t seem any light at the end of the tunnel. 

So, what is the solution? The problems are deep rooted but solutions are not impossible. If other states can improve so can we. Political will and commitment would be necessary. Well, does the Tarun Gogoi government has that? Remember, what Gautam Roy and Ataur Rehman were fighting over in the assembly? 

These details have been collected from anonymous sources from among Assam Government officials and contractors. Therefore, Concern For Silchar cannot vouch for the correctness of all the data mentioned, but we can certainly vouch for the rampant corruption that has prevailed over the years in the state. Concern For Silchar welcomes any independent inquiry or investigation that supports or contradicts the data in aforesaid article.


  1. This data is really a shocker!
    ..we all know there are these middle-men eating up all the funds coming to us..but never knew who/where are they! We always tend to blame the ministers bluntly...this is much more deep rooted.

    But I think this story is not unique to silchar/cachar..this is a case with India as a whole, only difference is the percentage of money left to complete the "actual civil work" is much more than Barak valley.

  2. Shocking indeed!
    Corruption ia rampant all around. DRDA is another office where funds meaant for the rural poor are all gobbled up by the greedy babus.

    Appreciate your efforts in posting such facts here!

  3. Hard truth.known fact but it is important to remind us again and again.very good work

  4. @bishalakshmi, tanaya and tarun:Thanks a lot for your positive feedback. Corruption is indeed extremely deeprooted and more importantly institutionalised. Like the unwritten constitition of the United Kingdom, here also there are unwritten rules which are diligently followed.
    @bishalakshmi: In this article, we have stressed on the corruption within government circles. But believe me, the share from all these earnings go to the concerned ministers in most of the cases. We have not been able to crack that code, once we do, we will come up with another writeup.
    @tanaya: DRDA is extremely corrupted. Please mail us if you have any specific and reliable info regarding corruption there.

  5. CFS-grt job guys!
    Well I think being anonymous blogger u guys are safe and can walk freely!
    else had it been a newspaper report the reporter/editor would have been getting TREAT CALLS
    Nobody wants to be a whistle blower and become a and martyr!
    Keep on the good work, Hail CFS!

  6. where do you guys get the data from? good work indeed if it is right data

  7. Opposition have duty to raise voice against the misdoings of government. Have not Ataur Rahaman did the correct thing? No, Not , if he is also practicing the same. So, data should have been presented against him as well. Other wise I find,nothing wrong on his raising voice in assembly.

  8. @Shushanta: There was nothing wrong with Ataur Rahman raising the corruption issue in the assembly. However, it was clearly a case where a thief was levelling theft charges on a robber. whatever, they speak inside the assembly, they basically are doing the same thing outside. The day we have specific data against any one of these leaders we will share them with our readers.


Silchar through the Lense