Indian official sacked for going on leave for 24 years

NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Indian public official has been sacked for taking leave 24 years ago and never returning to his desk in the country's notoriously work-shy bureaucracy, the urban development ministry said Thursday.

Assistant executive engineer A.K Verma went on leave in 1990 after joining India's central public works department (CPWD) a decade earlier.

Mr Verma defied bosses' orders to return to work after his requests for additional leave were denied, but it took until 2007 for formal dismissal charges to be brought against him, the ministry said in a statement.

Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu ordered his dismissal in order to "streamline the functioning of CPWD and to ensure accountability," it said.

India's civil servants have long been notorious for arriving late, taking long lunches or spending parts of their day on the golf course.

A 2012 survey by the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk consultancy rated India's bureaucracy as the worst among major Asian countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he was shocked by what he saw in the corridors of power after moving to New Delhi following his landslide election victory in May last year.

During his first few months in office, Mr Modi developed a reputation for paying unannounced visits to government offices.

Fear of being caught playing truant triggered a rise in attendance levels among civil servants and Delhi's main golf course has reportedly been largely deserted on week days.

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