Monday, December 12, 2011

Senior IAS officer H N Chibber booked day before retirement

Rajiv Topno, currently with the Prime Minister’s Office, also gets the chargesheet in a decade old case; they had unearthed mining scam involving former BJP minister Babu Bokhiria

It is not just the IPS officers, daring to challenge the regime, who get chargesheeted in Gujarat. In a surprise move, two senior IAS officers of Gujarat have found themselves in the “bad books” of the Modi government. H N Chhiber and Rajiv Topno have been chargesheeted in an old case. Incidentally, Topno is the only IAS officer from Gujarat serving in the PMO at present.

Mirror has confirmed information that just a day before he retired on November 30, Chhiber who was serving as additional commissioner in rural development department, and Topno, a director in the Prime Minister’s Office, have been served a chargesheet in a 10-year-old case.

The case pertains to debris removal in the post-earthquake phase in Kutch when both officers were posted there. “The government perhaps wanted to target Chhiber since he had unearthed a major scam involving a top BJP politician in Porbandar. They tried hard to pin him down but he continued his tirade and extensively damaged BJP’s reputation by exposing the mining mafia who were enjoying BJP’s patronage. The only case they could fish out against Chhiber was an old matter of Kutch,” the source said.

“However since both Chhiber and Topno were posted in Kutch, Chhiber perhaps could not be singled out and hence they have been chargesheeted together,” the source added.

The General Administration Department (GAD) issued the charge sheet on November 29, a day before Chhiber retired. “The government chargesheeted Chhiber and Topno in an old matter in Kutch. I don’t recall the details of the case,” a top bureaucrat in the government confirmed to Mirror without sharing the details and nature of the case.

As a result of the charge sheet, Chhiber will have to wait for his retirement dues till he is exonerated in the inquiry while Topno, very bright and only officer working in the PMO, may not be promoted to secretary level along with his 1996 batchmates.

“This is total pettiness on the part of the government. This is just meant to play with the officers’ career,” said a senior secretary in the government, deploring the government decision.

A massive investigation by the Porbandar district administration and the state mines and mineral department had revealed that powerful local politicians, goons and petty operators had illegally mined 1.50 crore tonnes of limestone worth Rs 500 crore over the past decade in the district.

The alleged main operators in the racket were all big-time politicians — former BJP minister Babu Bokhiria, a local gangster Bhima Dula (brother of BJP MLA Karsan Dula), his son Laxman Bhima and former Congress MP Bharat Odedra. The operation came to light in 2006, when the then district collector Chibber and the police chief raided a big mine near Porbandar and caught several labourers illicitly excavating limestone.

Bokhiria and his relatives are the main accused in the case. Due to illegal mining of limestone from the government land and supply of the mineral without payment of government royalty, the state exchequer had lost close to Rs 600 crore, as per the report Chhiber had prepared then.

An arch-rival of Gujarat Congress president Arjun Modhvadia, Bokhiria was also arrested in connection with the scam and is out on bail. Bhima Dula is right now in jail in a murder case. He is also alleged to have played a crucial role in the assassination of senior BJP leader and former minister Haren Pandya.

After he exposed the scam and launched a drive to stop mining in government lands, Chhiber was transferred and given insignificant assignment as additional commissioner, rural development.

Because of Chhiber’s interest in exposing BJP leaders involved in the scam, the local police had registered over 12 FIRs in various illegal mining cases.

“Any official who has discharged his professional duty in accordance with the law and has angered the regime has been harassed in some way or the other. Be they IPS officers like Rahul Sharma, R B Shreekumar, Rajnish Rai, Sanjiv Bhatt, Satish Verma or Kuldip Sharma or IAS officers like J S Rana, Pradeep Sharma, H N Chhiber or Rajiv Topno, all are being targeted,” the source claimed.


The Gujarat government has initiated the process to promote 1987 batch IAS officers from secretary to principal secretary level. There are five officials in this batch who are likely to be elevated. They include Civil Supplies Secretary Rajkumar, Gujarat State Road Transport Corporations MD Raj Gopal, Primary Education Secretary R P Gupta, Secretary Expenditure in finance department L Chuango and Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation MD V S Gadhvi. Besides this, the government has also initiated the process to elevate 1996 batch officers to secretary level. These include urban development Additional Secretary Mona Khandhar, her husband and IndextB Managing Director Mukesh Kumar, AUDA CEO Mamta Verma, revenue department Additional Secretary T Natarajan, Director in PMO Rajiv Topno, Madhya Gujarat Vij Company MD A N Khatri and Registrar of Cooperatives D K Rawal.


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