In a shocking audio clip that has for long been trending on the internet and WhatsApp groups in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Ashok Kumar Gupta of Champawat district in the hill state can be heard asking for bribe from a contractor whose pending payment is yet to be released by the forest department. The DFO is trying to get money out of the contract, specifically a proportion of the payment which is to be released.
The Champawat Forest Department has been in center of several controversies related to unauthorised transfer of officers and employees engaged in mobile games like Candy Crush during work hours.
This viral clip has created a storm inside the allegedly corrupt department and has once again put the highly rated officer to shame.
In the audio which has been shared by thousands of people on social media, Gupta is talking to a tin contractor from Bareily district of neighboring state Uttar Pradesh who is requesting him to release his pending payment. The contractor on call alleges that he had supplied tin consignments worth Rs 80,000 each twice in the year 2014-15, the payment of which wasn’t made to him.
The head official dodges his requests by making up things and telling the contractor that he will get his payment sooner or later. Gupta then asks him for Rs 3 as tip for the payment of per tin to which the contractor replies he will think about it. If calculated Rs 3 per tin would significantly reduce lakhs from the contractor’s earning.
The contractor reportedly had also written a letter to former Chief Minister Harish Rawat, explaining the sad sttae of affairs but no action has been taken so far for his cause.
Ashok Kumar Gupta however has denied allegations and claimed that the viral clip has been intentionally edited and cut in a way to tarnish his image. He also added that the payment to the contractor has already been made and this is just an attempt to defame the DFO.
According to a report in Jagran, Kumaon Norther Circle Forest Guard, IP Singh has said that he hasn’t received any such information about the viral audio. He also added that he hasn’t received any such audio on his phone nor a complaint has been registered by anyone to which an action could be taken.