The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a preliminary enquiry against unknown officials of Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity (DAVP) and two private persons for allegedly placing ads in non-existent newspapers.
According to sources in the CBI, it is alleged that certain officials in the DAVP, in connivance with owners of some newspapers, which now exist only in government records as they have either stopped printing long ago or print bare minimum copies to justify their existence, placed government ads in these newspapers and released payments leading to a loss to the exchequer.
“Irregularities have been found in the placement of ads in these newspapers between 2016 and 2019 period. These are such newspapers which have falsely claimed to have a circulation making them eligible for government ads. They either are not printing anymore or printing just about 100 copies which are sent to government offices to make them appear as if they are still in circulation. A preliminary enquiry has been started. If further evidence is found, a regular case in the form of an FIR will be registered,” a CBI officer said.
He added that the total quantum of fraud at the moment has been calculated to be around Rs 65 lakh.
The case is a result of a nation-wide raid CBI carried out in August last year to crackdown on corruption in government departments. On August 30 last year, the CBI had carried out surprise checks across 41 cities and towns in the country involving more than 150 raids at offices of 27 different government departments. These raids were conducted in a joint operation with Vigilance Officers of concerned Government departments. Among the various departments raided at that time was also DAVP.
The agency had then claimed that the checks were being conducted “at such points and places of corruption where common citizens or small businesspersons feel the maximum pinch of corruption in government machinery”. It had said the raids “strive to identify and highlight points and places vulnerable to corruption.”
According to CBI, the departments where these JSCs were conducted included Railways, coal mines and coalfields, medical and healthcare organisations, Customs and Food Corporation of India. Other departments included power, municipal corporations, ESIC, transport, CPWD, Directorate of Estates, Fire Services, sub-registrar office, GST Deptt, Port Trust, National Highways, DAVP, Airport Authority of India, public sector oil companies, Directorate General of Foreign Trade, PSU banks, Archaeological Survey of India, Shipping Corporation, BSNL, steel PSUs, mines and minerals.
The cities and towns where the raids were conducted included Delhi, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Guwahati, Shillong, Chandigarh, Srinagar, Chennai, Madurai, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai, Gandhinagar, Bhopal, Raipur, Nagpur, Jabalpur, Patna, Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Dehradun, Ranchi, Visakhapatnam, Guntur, Vijaywada, Cochin, Kollam, Hanamakonda, Karimnagar, Chirmiri, Secunderabad, Katni – Bina, Vadodara, Himmat Nagar, Dhanbad, Kasauli, Samastipur, Danapur and Mokama.
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