Mangalore, December 19, 2009
Holding a high profile job and maintaining a low profile is an attribute which very few people possess. But there is no dearth of such people and George Pinto, Superintendent, in charge of Excise Intelligence Bureau of Mangalore Division. Soft spoken, mild mannered and extremely down to earth George belies the position of eminence he holds heading Mangalore division comprising 5 districts namely Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Shimoga, Madikeri and North Kanara.
Intelligence gathering has assumed vital importance in the recent past considering the security threats facing our state especially the coastal region. Naturally the burden or the challenge has increased manifold for George and his team. Facing challenges is not anything new to this KPSC selected 1982 batch Sub Inspector of Excise. Even in the initial stages of his career George had an inclination towards intelligence and hence he specialized in gathering intelligence and most of his 27 years of service has been in the intelligence wing of the department. He had specialized training in Mysore and Channai in Narcotic drugs psychotic substances and has been part of the anti-drug unit of D K District.
Career by Choice
His journalistic experience of one year in Bangalore as Resident Correspondent in Times of India before joining the government cadre has been like a boon to him giving him adequate exposure. According to his own submission he would have made a good journalist. Does it mean to say we lost a journalist when we gained a good government official holding position of importance? “Not at all”, he says mincing no words. “I would have risen to higher position like many of my contemporaries who have attained name and fame. But I am happy I came to this department, which was by choice. I always had a fascination for kaki and the joy derived for donning the uniform cannot be equated with anything else. Though my parents were not happy with my career wanted me to go abroad I was steadfast in my career choice and have never regretted it even once”, he points out.
Commitment to the work is what makes George a rare breed of government officials and discipline is hallmark. His work demands working after office hours or working at odd hours and during holidays. And what he cherishes most in his job? The reply comes instantaneously. “I am happy in detecting cases and contended when I see that the culprits are brought to the book”, he says with a soft smile. Despite the hackneyed instances of political interference which is an affront to any upright official George feels he has done justice to his position working within the confines of government rules and regulations and the political interference that dogs all the government departments.
Born in Meramajal in Bantwal Taluk George imbibed discipline early in childhood as his father was in the Royal Air Force. The family later came and settled in Kulshekar and George had his entire education in St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. A Post Graduate in Political Science from Mysore University he was greatly captivated by the journalism field where he worked for a year before joining the government service.
His current responsibilities include detecting illegal transportation of non-duty paid liquor, detection of illegal sacheting and detection of drugs. ‘In our district sizeable quantity of duplicate and non-duty paid liquor is sold in some of the non-veg hotels. There is a unholy nexus between caterers and these hotels which sell these non-duty paid illegal spirits”, he reveals.
It is said that this unholy nexus has been prospering in the district as the caterers supply this non-duty paid liquor which makes the job of the excise department challenging. His department has to keep a watch on transportation of illegal liquor from neighboring state of Goa. Despite stringent measures at check posts the liquor is smuggled through various conduits which are causing revenue loss to the government. Presently the greater challenge is in the form of duplicate liquor which is nothing but raw rectified spirit and which is harmful to health.
The challenge to his department also stems from the fact that this department is thrust with the responsibility of selling liquor to earn revenue to the government. Excise department is the 3rd main major revenue earner to the government and the department has to ensure that each district sells the fixed quota of liquor. As of now the target for D K District is 1,58,00 boxes of liquor per month and each box comprises 9 liters of liquor.
At present it is assumed that 2 to 5% non-duty paid liquor is sold in the district, which in itself is a huge drain to the government’s revenue earning capacity. As per rule the confiscated liquor has to be destroyed and cannot be resold.
His department has been working hard to prevent such illegal transportation of liquor. Control room has been established in each taluk and 24-hours control room has been set have. The department also holds grama sabhas in villages where the ill effects of duplicate liquor is made known to the people.
Caution to parents
Apart from liquor detecting drugs is another major head ache to the excise department as the infiltration of drug peddlers has been causing havoc among the lives of youngsters in the city. Malls are believed to be the major dens of the illegal drugs. Prestigious college campuses especially junior colleges are also in the list of drug dealers. His department has warned the colleges about such drug dealers and urged the colleges to take preventive measures.
“Most of the children who fall prey to the drugs are from affluent families as parents give lot of money to them. It is therefore necessary for parents to keep a watch on their wards every day. One drug addict can ruin the life of 20 to 25 boys. Parents should be aware of the side effects of using drugs and explain it to the children. They should restrain their pocket money. Parents should also observe any behavioral change in the children. Colleges should hold counseling or meetings for students to explain the havoc caused by the use of drugs”, he advices.
George graciously accepts that his department has been bestowed the responsibility of safeguarding the wellbeing of the future generation. With the threat of terrorists looming large over the state the unholy nexus between terrorists and drug traffickers acts like a double-edged sword. Terrorists frequent the places where there is liquor and information can be obtained easily under the influence of drugs. Recently his department has seized drugs worth five lakhs from students and his department has traced the source to Manipal. Most of the drugs are smuggled through Nepal border and with a sizeable chunk of North Eastern students in our colleges has added to the existing problem.
In a career spanning 3 decades there are many memorable incidents associated with his profession. The most memorable has been the seizing of arms worth nearly one crore in 1993-94. In the same year he also detected 100 odd cases of illegal and non-duty paid liquor when he was the inspector in Mangalore squad. In 1994-95 he single handedly seized 3 vehicles and arrack worth Rs. 20 laks when the arrack sacheting was done within 100 metres of SP of SP office. In the last 5 years his department has confiscated arrack worth more than 5 crores.
Many a time the effort of the department to seize a major cache has come to a cropper due to leakage of information from within the department. “Such incidents cannot be avoided totally as sometimes people get lured by money. We have taken precautionary measures to avoid such goof ups as much as possible. We keep a track of people who we suspect and monitor their activities. At the same time I am proud to say our department has very honest and hard working people which is also our strength”, he emphasizes.
His profession has given him complete satisfaction though working within the parameters of government rules and regulations has not always been easy. “Being in government service has given me an opportunity to serve the public”, he declares. How does he feel performing the contradictory roles of preventing unauthorized liquor and drug trafficking and meeting the target of selling fixed quota of liquor to the public? He says “it is part of my duty and I cannot shirk away from it. If we our department does not sell others will take advantage leading to illegal and transportation of non-duty paid and spurious liquor leading to loss of revenue and health hazard”.
With hardly a handful of Catholics holding responsible positions in government, George has always rendered a helping hand to his community people and other needy people wherever possible. With 8 more years of service left to his credit George has opportunity to scale further in his career, though he harbors no further ambitions. His wife Roseline works for BSNL and their two daughters are studying. When it comes to children he is a disciplined father. Though his elder daughter is doing her Engineering he has not given her a mobile. “I have told my daughter in clear terms that she will not get one till she finishes her education as mobiles are a major source of distraction for students”.
With increased responsibilities George and his department is all geared up to face the challenges that comes with the responsibilities. With a man of his caliber at the helm of affairs there is hope of better future for all.