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Opinion

Odisha seeks the forced retirement of a senior forestry official with more than 400% unaccounted for wealth

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In its first mandatory retirement recommendation for an all-India service officer, the Odisha government recommended to the Center the mandatory retirement of the 1987 IFS officer, Abhay Kant Pathak, who is accused of accumulating disproportionate assets worth several million rupees, calling it ‘very corrupt and high-flying’.

Pathak, who served as Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Plan, Program and Afforestation, would have become Odisha’s next Chief Conservator of Forests in June next year, based on age.

However, everything changed when surveillance officers raided his residence and other facilities last month and found that he had accumulated disproportionate assets worth Rs 9.35 crore, which was 435% of his total income. The surveillance department also found cash deposits worth Rs 17 million in the bank accounts of his son Akash Pathak, an engineering graduate, who is also behind bars for impersonation, counterfeiting and deception of young people with the promise of jobs in Tata Motors.

A case has been registered under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Act 2018 against Pathak and his son, Akash.

“Pathak was making cash deposits of his ill-gotten wealth into his son Akash Pathak’s bank accounts and was also helping his son to fraudulently pose as CEO of Tata Motors,” stated the CM in its letter of recommendation to the center.

In September last year, the Naveen Patnaik government issued a circular saying that the service records of employees who reach 50 years of age would be reviewed and that an early retirement order would be issued to employees if evident. they lack integrity. Since then, dozens of state government employees have indulged in early retirement, but this is the first time that a central government official has received such punishment. However, Pathak would receive a pension if he is granted mandatory retirement after approval from the Center.

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During the shutdown when regular commercial flights were not allowed, the father-son duo along with former BJD minister Pradeep Panigrahy, Pathak’s future father-in-law, took 14 chartered flights to various cities across the country. They have also stayed in star hotels at least 15 times this year, with room rents exceeding Rs 2.3 lakhs per day. Akash Pathak, who posed as the managing director of the passenger division of Tata Motors, allegedly defrauded more than a hundred young people by promising them jobs at the company where he never worked. Although he insisted that he worked at Tata Motors, two days ago he finally confessed the truth to CID officials.

The largest disproportionate asset case in Odisha has come at a time when the Naveen Patnaik government emphasizes responsibility in government jobs through a fancy 5T slogan (Teamwork, Transparency, Technology Leading to transformation in time). He also started the Mo Sarkar program on Gandhi Jayanti last year to bridge the trust deficit between government officials and ordinary people due to large-scale corruption in government offices over the past decade.

Hindustan Times

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