Embattled Jharkhand bureaucrat drags in former chief minister

March 17th, 2008 - 2:23 pm ICT by admin  

Ranchi, March 17 (IANS) Jharkhand Chief Secretary P.P. Sharma, facing graft charges, has written to Arjun Munda, saying the former chief minister was in charge of the health department when the so-called irregularities were raised against him and that all actions were taken with Munda’s consent. The letter, which he wrote Feb 26, says: “I was chief secretary of Jharkhand between December 2004 and January 2006. I was removed on the report of then health secretary Sivendu. What happened during that period took place with your consent as you were in charge of the health department. If anything wrong had happened during the same it should have come to your notice”.

The letter was released by former chief minister Babulal Marandi here Sunday. Sharma is presently on long leave.

Amitabh Chaudhary, inspector general (IG) of police of Crime Investigation Department (CID), in a letter to Additional Director General of Police Gauri Shankar Rath Feb 14 had sought approval to prosecute Sharma.

The case pertains to corruption charges against the chief secretary when he was managing director of Biscoumaun of Patna and secretary of the department of cooperatives in 1988.

The IG’s letter said Sharma ordered fertilisers from Suraj Brand company of Rajasthan at a price of Rs.2,509.50 per metric tonne while the prevailing price of the brand was Rs.2,000. The fertiliser supplied by the firm was found to be sub-standard. Despite that, Sharma paid Rs.5.4 million to the company, Chaudhary alleged.

Sharma was removed from the chief secretary’s post in 2006 when corruption charges were levelled against him in his role as chairperson of Jharkhand Health Society.

Sharma was also charged with awarding a contract to Burke Products India (BPI) for purchase of vaccine carriers and freezers. BPI is a subsidiary of Ohio-based Burke Products Inc. and the tender was advertised only in a local newspaper.

The Madhu Koda government made Sharma chief secretary again last year despite opposition from some ministers.

Munda told reporters Monday: “I had instituted inquiry into the financial irregularities. What was the Madhu Koda government doing for the last one-and-half-years? Why did Koda make Sharma chief secretary a second time?”

Said Koda, who heads a United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government: “Many people of NDA (National Democratic Alliance) will face the heat in the case. We are inquiring into the entire issue.”

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