IAS Rohini Sindhuri ousted for opposing Fund misuse Attempts: Karnataka

Third transfer in two years

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IAS officer Rohini Sindhuri, 35, was removed from her position as the secretary of the Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board for resisting attempts of possible misuse of funds meant for the upliftment of labourers.

Transferred on September 20, just when the Board was set to launch mobile creches for children of construction workers, Sindhuri has not been assigned a new posting. Labour Commissioner K G Shantaram has been given simultaneous charge of the board.

The Board currently sits on a corpus of around Rs. 8,000 crores, mostly acquired through the labour cess of 1% levied on all construction projects – government or private. Taking sight of the fact that only Rs. 800 crores were spent in the last eight years, Sindhuri was trying to streamline the Board’s expenditure. According to sources, she was put under immense pressure to allocate the funds in a way that could have led to pilferage.

Sources also claim that Sindhuri was directed by a senior IAS officer to discard the official tendering process and award various works of the Board to the state-run Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation (KEONICS). Sindhuri was aware that KEONICS had a poor track record with implementation of projects and had decided on choosing service providers from the open market through a proper tendering process.

Sindhuri was also allegedly pressurized to divert a portion of the Board’s funds towards flood relief. She was first asked to part with Rs. 3,000 crores and then Rs, 1,000 crores for the distribution of food packets, furniture and lighting in flood-hit areas. She wanted proper procedures to be followed for this allocation since the Supreme Court monitored and laid clear guidelines on how the cess money was to be spent. She was worried that without adhering to the proper rules, the money for flood relief could be misused.

Past Instances
For the past two years, Sindhuri has been having a tryst with transfers. In 2018, JD(S) Supremo H D Deve Gowda condemned her transfer as the Deputy Commissioner (Hassan). Calling it an instance of ‘high handedness’ on part of then chief minister, Siddaramaiah’s cabinet colleague, A Manju, Deve Gowda said that the minister had demanded her transfer as she was trying to curb financial irregularities in the Mahamastakabhisheka works at Shravanabelagola.

(Source – The Hindu)
Similar Ousters from across the country
Rohini’s transfer is just one among the slew of officers of the IAS and IPS cadre that the government has transferred in the past years.

IAS officer and a whistle-blower, Ashok Khemka has been in the headlines for stopping a land deal between Robert Vadra and DLF. He recently faced his 52nd transfer in his 27-year career as a price for his honesty. Due to frequent run-ins with bigwigs of real estate and political circuits, he earned disfavour within government ranks and even his own colleagues.

Also, in lieu of being transferred 27 times in a decade for exposing a scam, Karnataka Officer K Mathai registered a case in May 2019 with the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) against Chief Secretary of Karnataka Vijay Bhaskar over alleged human rights violation. The case, registered under Article 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution, states that his transfers were a result of vindictive action and he suffered mental agony due to this war against corruption.

A high-risk career
The post of an IAS officer still holds a place of pride in the country. Hearing of the expulsion and transfer of honest IAS officers like Rohini Sindhuri and others for expressing their dissent or being booked by investigating agencies for standing up against corruption, really makes one wonder if there is any place for honesty in our ‘democracy’?



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