21 November 2019
Bhubaneswar: Late night on Wednesday, power circles in the State were mildly shook with the removal of Director General of Police BK Sharma. Sharma was shifted to the Home Department as an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) while his IPS batch mate, Abhay who is posted as Director of National Police Academy, Hyderabad, was appointed as DGP Odisha.
Official sources confirmed that it was due to gross irregularities in issuance of fire safety certificates to commercial establishments and industries which led to action against Sharma, who was also the Director General of Fire Services, holding additional charge as DGP Odisha.
OMMCOM NEWS tried to speak to highly placed sources and find out what could have triggered the removal of Sharma who had taken charge as the DGP barely three months back.
1. Utkal-Kanika Shopping Mall Factor: According to sources, the irregularities linked to Fire Services Directorate surfaced after the developers of city-based Utkal Kanika Mall at Kalpana Square moved the Government reporting the pendency of their file. Few days back, this mall was shut by the Police Commissionerate over issues like inadequate parking facilities and fire safety clearance.
It has been reported that soon after this matter caught attention of the Government, the Fire Safety clearance authority was withdrawn from the Fire Services Directorate and handed over the 5-T Department. Many believe that it was during this investigation, corruption in the Fire Services over issuing licences surfaced. "Industries and commercial establishments ineligible for the fire clearance certificates got the license, while the eligible and deserving ones had to wait," a highly placed source said.
2. Personal Agenda: Top sources in the Government have confirmed that soon after taking charge as the DGP, Sharma started taking whimsical decisions without following official protocol. One such instance being, withdrawal of personal security to eligible/senior political leaders without waiting for the recommendation of the committee meant for it.
Reports added that there were several efficient officers in the Department, who were not happy with Sharma’s style of functioning.
3. 5-T Factor: The Odisha Government started operating under the 5-T framework after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik introduced it in October this year. The Health and Home Departments were chosen for the pilots for the 5-T and 'Mo Sarkar' scheme. "Naveen is in no mood to tolerate any controversy leave apart irregularity while implementing 5-T," the source added.
In the last two months, a number of police officials against whom corruption charges surfaced were either suspended or transferred. This is why, when the Government smelt corruption in the office of the DGP, it was quite evident that exemplary action would be taken, sources added.
The State Government has formed a high level committee headed by Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy to probe into the irregularities in the Fire Services Directorate. Development Commissioner Suresh Mahapatra and Home Department Secretary, Sanjeev Chopra are members of this committee.
Meanwhile, former DGP Sharma has been shifted to the Home Department as OSD. It is believed that after completion of the probe, stern action might be initiated against former DGP Sharma.