AV Venkatachalam, the former chairman of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), died by suicide on Thursday, December 2. Venkatachalam was being investigated by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) and had been accused of corruption that the vigilance unit believes happened during the previous AIADMK regime. The deceased AV Venkatachalam was found dead at his residence, and police have said that no suicide note was found.
Venkatachalam was charged with criminal misconduct and criminal misappropriation under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, in September this year, following a search at several places associated with him. A report in The New Indian Express from the time says that search operations were conducted by DVAC in five places, including the TNPCB office and Venkatachalam’s Salem and Chennai residences. A cash amount of Rs 13.5 lakhs and gold jewellery worth Rs 2.5 rupees were reportedly seized at the time. “Around 10 kilograms of sandalwood items and pieces were identified at his residence,” TNIE quotes a DVAC statement as saying.
Venkatachalam had also served in the Indian Forest Service and retired in 1994. Venkatachalam was also reportedly accused of criminal misconduct and misappropriation while serving as secretary of TNPCB in 2013-2014, member secretary of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority from 2017-2018 and as chairman of the TNPCB in 2019.
Venkatachalam was also reportedly accused of demanding monetary benefits in exchange for Consent to Establish (CTE) and Consent to Operate (CTO) forms when he was the chairman of the state’s pollution control board.
If you are aware of anyone facing mental health issues or feeling suicidal, please provide help. Here are some helpline numbers of suicide-prevention organisations that can offer emotional support to individuals and families.
State health department's suicide helpline: 104
Sneha Suicide Prevention Centre - 044-24640050 (listed as the sole suicide prevention helpline in Tamil Nadu)
Life Suicide Prevention: 78930 78930
Roshni: 9166202000, 9127848584
Sahai (24-hour): 080 65000111, 080 65000222
Maithri: 0484 2540530
Chaithram: 0484 2361161
Both are 24-hour helpline numbers.
State government's suicide prevention (tollfree): 104
Roshni: 040 66202000, 6620200
SEVA: 09441778290, 040 27504682 (between 9 am and 7 pm)
Aasara offers support to individuals and families during an emotional crisis, for those dealing with mental health issues and suicidal ideation, and to those undergoing trauma after the suicide of a loved one. 24x7 Helpline: 9820466726