In a bid to expose the alleged nexus involving liquor syndicates,politicians and excise officials,the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has intensified its operation and is conducting searches in various districts of Andhra Pradesh.
After conducting searches in some districts of Telangana and Rayalaseema,the ACB officials have now focused on the coastal Andhra region.
The liquor syndicates issue has been rocking the state with the ACB bringing to light the alleged involvement of excise officials,politicians and liquor traders across the state. Agency’s investigations have so far revealed that some legislators and leaders had allegedly received annual bribes from the liquor syndicates,ACB sources said.
After a series of raids in Khammam,Adilabad,Warangal,Rangareddy,Kurnool and Hyderabad districts since January this year,the ACB officials recently carried searches in Vizianagaram district,from where the APCC chief and Transport Minister Botsa Satyanarayana hails.
Satyanarayana has already gone on record saying his relatives and family members might have been in the liquor business,but he personally has no links with the syndicates.
During the searches conducted at different places in Vizianagaram district on March 27,apart from corruption,several “ingredients of organised crime” were found in the liquor business,a top ACB official said.
A case pertaining to the fraud committed in the auction of wine shops during 2010 was registered in Vizianagaram district,Director General of ACB D Boobathi Babu said.
After going through the seized documents,it was found that the wine shops were allotted in the name of 33 persons,who were either working as employees or casual labourers in the same shop,he added.
Of the 202 wine shop license holders in the district,103 persons possess white ration cards,three persons have cards issued under Antyodaya scheme and while nine others had temporary ration cards. These ration cards were generally issued to those families who are under Below Poverty Line (BPL),the officer said.
“How can a person whose social status is under BPL could make payment of lakhs of rupees for a wine shop?” an ACB official probing the liquor syndicate case asked
After launching a drive to expose the alleged nexus between liquor syndicates and excise officials,the agency has registered 26 criminal cases since January this year and the crackdown is still in progress.
During the course of investigation,the agency has arrested 13 officials of the Excise as well as the police department on charges of collecting bribes from the liquor syndicates to overlook the violation of the provisions of A P Excise Act. A liquor trader Nunna Venkat Ramana of Khammam district,who led a liquor syndicate in Khammam and Warangal districts,was also held.
Out of all the arrested officials,eight personnel of the Excise Department as well as the police,including the officers on special duty (OSD) Ram Prasad and Uma Maheswar Rao from Kothagudem and Adilabad respectively,Kazipet circle Inspector Vijaya Sarathi and others were released on bail by the ACB court here on March 25.
More arrests are likely to be made in the coming few days in connection with the liquor scam,ACB sources said.