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Vigilance Bureau registers case against 26 persons for committing fraud in funds related to construction of Jang-e-Azadi Memorial, 15 accused arrested


Chandigarh: The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) on Wednesday registered a case against 26 accused including private persons for committing fraud in the government funds related to the construction of Jang-e-Azadi Memorial at Kartarpur, Jalandhar. In this case, the VB has arrested 15 officers/employees including a private person who would be produced in the competent court tomorrow.

          Giving information in this regard, a spokesperson of the VB said during the investigation of a vigilance enquiry No. 05/2023, it was found that the funds released by the Punjab Government for the construction of said Jang-e-Azadi Memorial have been misappropriated causing huge loss to the state exchequer to the tune of crores of rupees. In this regard a case FIR no. 9 dated 22.05.2024 under sections 420, 406, 409, 465, 467, 468, 471, 120-B of the IPC and section 13(1)A read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered at VB police station, Jalandhar range.

          He informed that out of a total of 26 accused, the VB has arrested 15 accused so far, which includes Deepak Kumar Singal, owner of M/s. Deepak Builders, a resident of Raj Guru Nagar, Ludhiana, Arvinder Singh, Chief Engineer (Retired)-cum Independent Engineer, a resident of sector 38, Chandigarh, Tez Ram Katnauria, Xen PWD (B&R) Branch-2 Jalandhar (Chief Engineer Retired) resident of Jalandhar, Rajiv Kumar Arora, JE, (SDO Retired) PWD (B&R) Sub-Division provincial division-3 Jalandhar, resident of sector-11, Panchkula, Rohit Kumar JE, PWD (B&R) Construction Division-3 Jalandhar (Now JE Mechanical Division Jalandhar, a resident of Jalandhar, Raghwinder Singh Xen/Sub Divisional Officer, Public Works Department, Electrical Division Resident of Sector 110, Mohali, Santosh Raj Xen, Electrical Division Amritsar (Retd), a resident of Green City Akash Avenue, Amritsar, Harpal Singh SDO, Electrical Sub-Division Jalandhar (Xen Electrical Ludhiana), resident of Preet Nagar Ludhiana, Jatinder Arjun SDO, now Xen Electrical Sub-Division Jalandhar (Xen Mechanical Division PWD (B&R Jalandhar), resident of Jalandhar Cantt, Harpreet Singh, JE Electrical Sub-Division Jalandhar Cantt, resident of village Jalal Bhulana, district Kapurthala, Mandeep Singh, JE Electrical Sub-Division Jalandhar, resident of Urban Estate Phase-2, Jalandhar, NP Singh, Xen, department of Water Supply and Sanitation, resident of Chhoti Barandri Jalandhar, Rajat Gopal, SDO, department of Water Supply and Sanitation, Jalandhar (Xen ,Water Supply and Sanitation department Tarn Taran), resident of Gopal Park Kapurthala, Gauravdeep, JE, Water Supply and Sanitation department Division-1, Jalandhar, resident of Master Tara Singh Nagar, Jalandhar and Rohit Kondal, JE, Water Supply and Sanitation department Division-3 Jalandhar, Sub-Division Nakodar, district Jalandhar, a resident of Madhuban Kaluni, Kapurthala have been arrested. In this case, remaining absconding accused including Vinay Bublani, IAS, Former Chief Executive Officer, Jang-e-Azadi and others will be arrested soon as raids are being conducted at their residences and other locations. Further, investigation of this case is under progress.

          Giving more information, he said during the investigation it was found that in 2012, the then Punjab government had proposed to build a memorial depicting the role the freedom struggle of India from the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to the independence of India, i.e. till the year 1947 so that future generations could be aware of the history and contribution of Punjabis in India's freedom struggle. In this regard, the Punjab Government sanctioned an amount of Rs. 315 crores to complete the above said project and 25 acres of prime land located on National Highway at Kartarpur, district Jalandhar was allotted for this purpose.

          He added that various committees were formed by the state government to carry out the work of this project, in which Barjinder Singh Hamdard was appointed as the president of Executive Committee/Management Committee who along with Vinay Bublani I.A.S. Former Chief Executive Officer, Jang-e-Azadi has supervised all the construction works of this project and did not empowered other members of the foundation pertaining to the rules and by-laws and deed of declaration of the memorial. Both Barjinder Singh Hamdard and Vinay Bublani,IAS in violation of the said rules had allotted the construction of Jang e Azadi related works to their choicest contractor/person neamly Deepak Builders/Sham Benegal Films regarding sewage treatment plant, landscaping, operation and maintenance/documentary film making, without adopting tender system.

          Giving further details, he said both Barjinder Singh Hamdard and Vinay Bublani misused their powers given in clause No. 9 and 10 of Punjab Freedom Movement Memorial Foundation's Deed Of Declaration(2012) for their personal benefits and connived with the contractors (Deepak Builders/Godrej & Boyce Company) and government officers/officials who ignored and violated the original plans prepared by Raj Ravel, Master Technical Consultant (MTC) and EDC Creative Technology Solutions Limited (Museum Consultants) for construction of this project but made excess payments beyond the bidding amounts to the said contractors/companies under the guise of non-scheduled items without completing the project as per plan.

          During the investigation, it has come to light that about Rs 6 crores were given to Raj Ravel Master Technical Consultant and about 3 crores to EDC Creative Technology Solutions Limited (Museum Consultant) for preparing the map/plan for the construction of Jang-e-Azadi project. Despite this, Barjinder Singh Hamdard and Vinay Bublani, ignoring the original bill of quantities(BOQ) and conniving with the said two consultants, approved the non-scheduled items such construction of 6 ‘Gubands’ in RC to steel structure and usurped crores of rupees. The use of Hilti Cramps for stone cladding work, and Centering and shuttering items were made non-schedule items thereby additional payments of crores of rupees was made to the above said contractor by giving enhanced rates. Apart from this, by raising the issue of primary steel, Deepak Builders started purchasing primary steel (Tata Steel) from April 2015, without the approval of the executive committee at the behest of Barjinder Singh Hamdard and Vinay Bublani CEO and around three months later (July  2015),  Barjinder Singh Hamdard and Mr. Vinay Bublani had got approval in the meeting of the Executive Committee to buy Tata Steel in the name of Primary Steel and paid crores of rupees to Deepak Builder.

          The spokesman added that the construction of the Jang-e-Azadi memorial had not been accomplished as per the plans of MTC Raj Ravel and Museum Consultant EDC Creative Technology Solutions. During the probe, it was found that as per the plans prepared by MTC Raj Ravel, out of the total 235 civil items in the bills of quantities, 103 items were executed as non-scheduled works and paid additional financial benefits to the tune of crores of rupees to the contractor Deepak Builder due to which many constructions/components like 10 statues, 04 galleries at first floor, memorial icon, food court, atrium etc. could not be constructed with this money which are still in complete. Apart from this, a laser show which was installed at a cost of around Rs 14 crores at Jang-e-Azadi was found to be non-operational since 2020 and Barjinder Singh Hamdard being the President of the Managing Committee did not perform his responsibilities and kept this laser show non functional causing financial loss to the government.

          He added that accused Barjinder Singh Hamdard and Vinay Bublani,IAS being President and CEO Executive Committee respectively failed to get the construction of the monument  done as per the  MTC Plan and Bill Of Quantities(BOQ)/DNIT tender. The work of Jang-e-Azadi project was reviewed by various technical teams and the according to the report given by them, it has been transpired that a direct financial loss of Rs 27,23,62,615 to the government exchequer has been done in the construction of the Jang-e-Azadi memorial by paying extra to the contractors. In addition to this, the work of the Jang-e-Azadi project which is still incomplete or constructed wrongly would incur another financial burden of crores of rupees on the government for its completion as per the MTC plan.

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