The Gujarat government on Wednesday said that it would take strict action against “government officers who illegally and falsely leak government information with oblique motive” after an audio conversation purportedly between an RTI activist and a government officer in which the latter was heard “indicating” corruption in a number of projects of Gujarat Pavitra Yadtradham Vikas Board (GPYVB) snowballed into a major controversy.
Admitting that the officer’s voice in the audio clip was his, Additional Secretary (Rural Development Department) Anil Patel, who served as secretary, GPYVB, for 10 years, said that he was ready to face any action of the state government. He also said that during his tenure at the GPYVB, he had “raised most of the issues that were highlighted in the audio clip with appropriate authorities” and that his letters are there on the record of the Board.
Anil Patel said that he always worked in the interest of the government and had faced an inquiry in the past for the same.
In the audio clip, RTI activist Kishor Nathwani is purportedly heard speaking about poor quality of work in Pavagadh in central Gujarat. In the close to nine-minute-long audio clip, a voice, purportedly of Anil Patel, is heard indicating corruption or poor quality of work in several projects of GPYVB in Bahuchraji, Dwarka, Surat, Dangs etc. At one point, the officer is even heard about having exposed a recruitment scam.
The GPYVB has been developing various pilgrimage sites in the state.
After the audio clip went viral on social media, the issue was discussed in the Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.
After the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said that they have received the information about the audio clip and the government has decided to take “strict action against government officers who illegally and falsely leak matters with oblique motive of defaming the government”.
Without referring to any officer by name, the Deputy CM also indicated that it was “improper” that some officers defame their former departments or institutions “by making false allegations after getting the so-called sideline posting”.
Meanwhile, the GPYVB issued a release, saying that they have received a representation by one Kishor Nathwani about alleged corruption and poor quality of works related to Pavagadh. The release added that a decision has been taken that chief engineer of Roads & Buildings Department and chief engineer of GPYVB will visit Pavagadh to assess the quality of work. The two officers have been asked to submit their report within 10 days. “Action will be taken, if any irregularity or illegality is found,” the release added.