At a time when the state government has declared 117 tehsils as drought-affected, a controversy has erupted after a district forest officer in Bastar’s Sukma district was found to have constructed a swimming pool at his official residence. The Congress has called for his immediate dismissal, and accused the state government of shielding the officer, Rajesh Chandel.
Congress MLA from Konta Kawasi Lakhma held a protest outside the DFO’s residence on Monday, demanding to see the swimming pool. “This is an extremely poor area where people are parched for water. This officer has insulted them by building a swimming pool, and we have arrived here because I have never seen one. We want the officer to be dismissed,” said Lakhma.
Chandel has claimed that the pool is “not used for bathing” but to supply water to others in the area.
Environment Minister Mahesh Gagda said the officer should have used the funds to build ponds for villagers, and said a probe would be ordered. Chief Minister Raman Singh said Gagda had been instructed to launch an investigation.
State Congress president Bhupesh Baghel accused the government of delaying action. “No construction like this can take place in a government allocated residence. The violation is blatant and grave at a time when people are crying for water. The government is shielding the corrupt. In a case like this, the officer must be dismissed immediately if the government wants to show it is serious about tackling corruption,” he said.
In 2014, Gagda was raided by the Anti Corruption Bureau, when he was DFO in another district, in a disproportionate assets case.