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Dhaliwal orders FIR after finding irregularities in spending money received from Shamlat Land sold

Rs. 22.21 crore embezzlement by five gram panchayats of Block Shambhu Kalan including Sehra, Sehri, Akdi, Pabra and Takhtu Majra

- Rural Development Minister also ordered to seize passports of accused to ensure that they couldn't flee abroad

Chandigarh, (Gurpreet): On finding irregularities and embezzlement of funds worth crores received from sale of Panchayat lands for Amritsar- Delhi- Kolkata Industrial Corridor (AKDIC), Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal has ordered registration of a first information report (FIR) against various panchayat members and department officials involved in the matter.

According to the information, a gigantic amount of irregularities have been detected in spending the amount received from Shamlat Land for the AKDIC project by the gram panchayats of Block Shambhu Kalan including Sehra, Sehri, Akdi, Pabra and Takhtu Majra gram panchayat.

Taking a serious note of the matter, the minister also ordered to impound the passports of the persons found guilty in this investigation to ensure that none of the accused could flee abroad to escape inquiry. Further the minister said that their properties should also be attached to the case so that the embezzlement money can be recovered from them.

Divulging the details, the Minister said that the development works carried out by the Panchayat Samiti Shambhu Kalan were examined by a committee of four senior officers of the Department including Sarabjit Singh Walia joint director chairman and Jatinder Singh Brar deputy director IT.

The probe has found that under this project, 1104 acres of land belonging to five gram panchayats of Block Shambhu Kalan of District Patiala was purchased by Punjab Housing and Urban Development Authority (PUDA) in the year 2020 for Rs 285 crore.

This included 177 acres of 3 kanal 10 marlas of Village Pathra, 183 acres 12 marlas of village Aakri, 492 acres 4 kanals 15 marlas of village Sehra, 48 acres 3 kanals 18 marlas of village Takhtu Majra and 201 acres 7 kanals land of village Sehri.

According to the inquiry conducted by the departmental committee, a colossal amount received in lieu of the land was directly transferred to the HDFC bank accounts of the respective gram panchayats. The inquiry found that a major chunk of the amount received was misused by the respective panchayats in connivance with officers and employees on the works in disregard of the directions and rules made by the department.

During the inquiry,it has been found that the above said gram panchayats had violated the norms of the department like the amount was not fixed deposit, administrative and technical approval of the works had not been sought, which were mandatory as per the rules and some other important norms set by the department were also violated. Inquiry report also points out that unnecessary work was done, work was given to specific firms and material was also purchased from selected firms again and again. Some works were just shown on paper and money was withdrawn.

According to the technical investigation team of the Committee, there has been large scale embezzlement amounting to Rs 22.21 crore had been done while carrying out developmental works by these gram panchayats, which includedRs 12.24 crore by gram panchayat Akhri, Rs 7.32 crore by Sehri and Rs 2.65 crore by Sehra gram panchayat.

As per the report of the Inquiry Committee, the then District Development and Panchayat Officer Surinder Singh Dhillon, BDPO Dilawar Kaur, Dharminder Kumar AE (Per), Jasvir Chand Panchayat Secretary (Gram Panchayat Sehra, Takhtu Majra, Pabra), Lakhminder Singh Panchayat Secretary (Gram Panchayat Sehri), Jaswinder Singh Panchayat Secretary (Gram Panchayat Akdi), Harjit Kaur Sarpanch Gram Panchayat, Hakam Singh Sarpanch Gram Panchayat Sehra, Harsangat Singh Sarpanch Gram Panchayat Takhtu Majra, Rakesh Rani Sarpanch Gram Panchayat Pabra and Manjit Singh Sarpanch Gram Panchayat Sehri and the panchayat members and bill issuing firms of these villages has been found guilty of this scam.

Apart from this, money for the Secretary Wages of Panchayat Samiti Shambhu Kalan has been released by the then posted BDPO Dilawar Kaur and Gurmail Singh BDPO, with malafide intention. The amount has been spent during the tenure of Dilawar Kaur BDPO, Roop Singh, Secretary Zila Parishad additional charge BDPO Shambhu Kala and Gurmail Singh. The committee has recommended strict departmental action against them.

Meanwhile, the Minister has ordered registration of FIR against these erring officials at once while directing the department to recover the scammed amount from the accused.