Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation Now Officially Accepts Bribes

Here’s something interesting, albeit in a very pathetic way: The Times Of India, Delhi Edition, dated 11 September 2007, reported that the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation now officially accepts bribes.

In case the link breaks, this is what the article said:

GHAZIABAD: If you can't check corruption, institutionalise it. This is the bizarre mantra that the Municipal Corporation of Ghaziabad (MCG) has hit upon.

Believe it or not, MCG is now officially accepting bribes paid through cheques that would otherwise have gone into the pockets of its officials.

Here's an instance of how it works. A contractor who bags a tender for a government project is now required to pay 15 per cent of the quoted amount to MCG. That's the kickback money he would ordinarily have paid to department employees. But now it’s going into the municipality's coffers.

This is the new system being put in place by municipal commissioner Ajay Shankar Pande to "curb corruption as well as enrich the MCG". And, as much as Rs 22 lakh of 'bribe money' has now officially gone into the corporation's account. And this in just two months that Pande has headed the corporation.

Says Pande, "Corruption has gone so deep into the working of government departments that officials cannot dream of handing out work, or payments for it, without taking bribes. So, we have adopted this method of officially taking the bribes, by cheques, into the MCG account."

Interestingly, most contractors have reacted by revealing the exact amounts, usually ranging from 5 per cent to 15 per cent, that they had agreed to pay as bribe. They are signing declarations that they are "voluntarily depositing the amount that would have gone into bribes to realise payments, into the corporation's account. And, this amount should be used by MCG for public welfare projects".

But, asserts Pande, giving this "official bribe" does not absolve any contractor from providing quality work. "Contractors who have earlier done sub-standard work are being given one more chance because it appears that everybody was earlier involved in corruption. They have to repair the shortcomings at their own cost," he adds.

I’m not quite sure if it’s a stupid move or not. After all, if it’s legal, then it can be tracked and accounted for. So, if it does work out, then it’s a good thing and would show that the guy who came up with the plan is a pretty smart fellow and that tough times call for tough measures.

On the other hand, it reflects rather poorly on us; that we’re this incapable of dealing with corruption that we have to shift focus from stopping it to making sure we can at least profit from it.

I figure it’s like telling kids that “stealing chocolates is a no-no; but if you do do it, you’ve to give up half”. So what do kids do? If you said “stop stealing and lead an honest life”, go directly to the Ghaziabad Municipal Corporation ( apparently they employ similar thinking folks ), do not pass go, do not collect 200 rupees ( over or under the table ). If you answered, “steal twice the chocolate to make sure their share doesn’t drop”, congratulations. You’re an unfortunate, thinking, rational member of a society that seems to get weirder everyday!

Next they’ll be telling dacoits “…alright, so you can loot and burn trains. But make sure you buy a ticket first!

Update [13 Sep 07]: Here's another post about this on the "Weird India" blog


Charles said...

So what's to prevent the officials from their unofficial shakedown anyway? How outrageous. The consumer loses again with an additional tax to cover. Now there's wisdom (not!) just gum up the efforts to get something done. That should help the economy. And what's to prevent the officials from making the contractors lie? You can't have the fox tending the hen house, no matter how you charge. It just doesn't work.

I was told that there was just a huge (7000) dismissal of police for corruption, that's a step in the right direction, but only a half step. The correct thing to have done would have been to actually identify the criminals and prosecute them. Until things get them out of the system while leaving the uncorrupted in it, it doesn't stand an ice-cube's chance in hell of working.

Mona said...

This is similar to what they did with the 'Pagdi' system in Maharashtra State a few years back. The illegal huge sums that the landlords extracted from the tenants prior to letting them their premises on rent was legalized by none other than the Government of Maharashtra itself so as to be able to collect taxes on that huge amount of what is legally black money.But I doubt that anything came of it. In fact it did all to boost up the Pagdi rates 'official' & 'unofficial' & the landlords became fearless too in indulging in such exploitation!

That is a super stupid explanation he gives.Can you tame the tigers who have already tasted blood in one day? Sher ke moonh khoon to laga hua hai!They will devise other means to sidetrack him.

& besides, I think that the head wants to eliminate the 'middleman' here so that he gets all the booty for himself. He must pay the officials, or rather our not so honorable ministers to make this all 'legal' ...just as is typical of our bureaucrats, paying the chief minister to have the 'potentially more juicy' constituency in their grip in order to exploit. I heard that the honorable chief minister assigns constituencies to patrons in accordance to how much they are willing to pay.

& as for the Municipal Corporation Division of Ghaziabad, who is coming to check what they did with the money? Even if they do some work,more than half of it will surely land up in the guys pockets.There is no such thing as transparency & accountability in India at any level whatsoever. said...

Sigh. It's just a very sad situation here in India. And those that we entrust to protect us against corruption and exploitation become the ones who do exactly that.

Ravinder Kumar said...

Hi all, this is a one type of desease in our society. I live in Ghaziabad and I know how worst it is to live in Ghaziabad. Everyone is corrupt. In Shaheed Nagar there are lots of illigal "Jeans Dyeing" factories running with the help of local Police and Nigam Parshad because the factory owners pay a big amount to Police and Nigam Parshad. U can't even find the steet lights on electric poles in same area because all the money alloted for these work is swallowed by Nigam Parshad. All the Safai Thekedaars also never work properly and u can see all the garbage on the roadside. Supplied water is not pure also. It is like hell. Someone tell me what can I do for it after being a local resident.

Anonymous said...

I’d sweetie to be au fait that too!