Vigilance nets another PCB engineer; raids unearth investments worth crores, properties

Kottayam: Anti-pollution norms are being used as a ploy to harass businesses, whereas corrupt officials concerned are enriching themselves with bribe money. Two officials of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (PCB) are in the net of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau as raids at their properties yielded large amount of money and documents on their ill-gotten wealth.

Over Rs 1.56 lakh rupees, foreign currency, gold and fixed deposit documents showing investments to the tune of Rs 1.97 crore were recovered from the house of PCB senior engineer J Josemon at Ezhukone in Kollam district during Thursday night's Vigilance raid. This followed Wednesday night's raid at the Aluva flat of another PCB engineer A M Harris.

The foreign currency seized from Josemon included 239 US Dollars, 835 Canadian Dollars, 4,725 UAE Dirhams and 1 Qatar Rial of various denominations.

The Rs 1.97 crore FDs were in 48 deposits in different banks. Government bond papers worth Rs 2 lakh were also found. It has also been confirmed that Josemon owned shares worth huge amounts in the Nedumbassery airport and a multi-speciality hospital.

The PCB engineer has insurance policies and mutual funds worth Rs 15 lakh, the Vigilance team said.

The seized documents also showed Josemon owns a 3,500 square feet luxury house on 20 cents of land, 7.5 cents of land and resort in Vagamon, 12 cents of land in Ezhukone, 5 shop rooms in a double-storey building, two residential flats, 5 cents of land and house in Ezhukone and a commercial complex.

The PCB official has two cars worth Rs 18 lakh and 5 lakh, respectively.

The Vigilance squad also found 72 sovereigns of gold in the bank locker and 40 sovereigns of gold in the house.

Josemon is senior engineer at the PCB's Thiruvananthapuram office.

The Vigilance raid, which brought out startling details of corruption and bribery in the Pollution Control Board, was carried out at Josmon's house following a complaint filed by Jobin Sebastian, owner of P J Tyre Retreading. The PCB official had demanded a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from Jobin for renewing the licence of his establishment.

A M Harris, the PCB environment engineer based in Kottayam, was arrested on Thursday for taking a bribe of Rs 25,000 from Jobin. Josemon is the second accused in the case.

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