Why is everyone afraid of Churchill Alemao?

| JANUARY 31, 2013, 11:24 AM IST

The aura of Churchill Alemao is baffling. It sometimes makesnewspapers like The Goan wonder if its relentless pursuit against rampantcorruption by one man in a series of investigations with documentary evidence,gleaned from RTI applications, is worth it. Thus far the government which hasall the evidence, admitted as much to The Goan, gets cold feet every time itgets even close to naming Churchill Alemao as the patron of the PWD corruptionracket.

Worse still, in the just concluded assembly session, theissue of blatant corruption, orchestrated by the minister (Churchill) wasveiled in a civilised casket calling it a “mess”. The Chief Minister namedChurchill as responsible for the “mess” saying he almost finished the PWD. Butthis is hardly information peeping through from a classified casket. It isknown even to the young lad in the tinto who struggles to get his national anthemright. When will the government initiate action by lodging an FIR and start acorruption inquiry? Instead, the government, like “Queen of Hearts” in theAlice in Wonderland classic, announced that it would follow the “off with theirheads” policy for all engineers who merely did Churchill’s bidding.

The Goan, relentless, in its investigations has done 5 coverstories on Churchill’s role in the virtual emptying out of the PWD’s finances.And that is why it’s shocking that, while the government admits that the PWDdues (to its contractors for various inflated projects sanctioned) is almost Rs600 crores, three times more than its budget allocation (with 120 crores stilloutstanding), it refuses to name and arrest the kinpin- Churchill Alemao.

Before proceeding further, we reproduce sections of aninterview conducted with the current PWD minister Sudhin Dhavlikar on the coverpage of our issue dated October 27. It needs no further elaboration

The Goan: If you have so much of evidence, why are you nottaking action? Why are you not filing an FIR or even arresting Churchill Alemaofor such blatant corruption?

Sudhin Dhavlikar: Churchill will definitely be prosecuted.It is very easy based on the enough clinching evidences that we have toprosecute him. But it is not so easy. Vigilance follows a process where enquiriesare done, charges framed and then only FIR lodged. On October 15, Parker madehis final deposition before Vigilance. We will soon have charges framed.

TG: How much did Churchill benefit from these scams as PWDMinister?

SD: He used to get 15% of the total budgetary provision. Atleast Rs 400 crores, if not more.

TG: What is the expanse of this corruption now that you havebeen in the power for almost six months?

SD: The list keeps on increasing and we are surprised at howbig the corruption was. We now have P T Parker, Executive Engineer of DivisionXXV (who was suspended for the Short Tender Scam). In his statement he haswritten, attaching proof of how PWD Minister Churchill Alemao had made remarkssuch as “you issue tenders without publication” and even “issue work orders tosuch and such contractors”. We were shocked to see even MLAs such as ShyamSatardekar (Curchorem), Babu Kavlekar (Quepem) even Vijai Pai Khot givingdirect instructions to the Executive Engineer to allot specific work orders tochosen contractors.

Even if we step back for a moment and soak in thegovernments stated position that the department cannot run if all engineers aresuspended/ arrested and cleaning up the house is a pre cursor to taking action.This argument has a fundamental flaw. An investigation into a criminal casedoes not commence after the scene of crime is cleansed and sanitised. In a firescene, clues are found in the embers, not when the place has been restored.With each passing day, engineers and other officials who did Churchill’sbidding and went further and further to build palatial residences and becomefavorite boys of luxury car dealers, are covering up to protect themselves andas an offshoot, cover their ex minister.

The pursuit and conquest of corruption cannot be an openended dream. It has to have targets with a reality check on its mission. Howcan a PWD minster say that his predecessor was corrupt and made Rs 400 croresand then do nothing about it?

This government has enough to go on and at the very leastquestion Alemao. Or it can move in on engineers and make them sing likecanaries so that the eagle who controlled them is caged through aninvestigative swoop. But does it want to? Or use this as a sword which hangsbut never strikes, because Alemao might come in politically handy for the BJPat some stage?

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