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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Failed projects: Punjab Infotech suffers 32-cr loss in 2 yrs

Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times  SAS Nagar, October 17, 2013
First Published: 09:42 IST(17/10/2013) | Last Updated: 12:49 IST(17/10/2013)

Punjab Infotech, a nodal agency of the Punjab government for the promotion of IT industry in the state, has suffered a loss of around 32 crore in the last two years on account of many of their projects having failed to get going.

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The matter came to light after Examiner Local Funds Accounts (ELFA) conducted a special audit of the corporation for the period from April 2010 to June 2012. Surprisingly, ELFA did not fix the accountability of the officers concerned for the loss. The report was released recently.

The audit department said that as on March 31, 2010, the balance amount with Punjab Infotech was 40 crore, which was reduced to 0.34 crore as on June 2012. The corporation paid a sum of 4 crore as consultancy charges alone for the failed projects in these two years.

However, when contacted, Madan Mohan Mittal, industries and commerce, and technical education minister said, “I took charge of the department recently and haven’t seen the report. After going through it on Thursday, I will seek explanation from the officers concerned and will take action.”

CANCELLATION OF INDUSTRIAL PLOTS
ELFA pointed out that Punjab Infotech suffered a loss of 9 crore due to the cancellation of plots at Sector 67 of SAS Nagar. The corporation had floated the scheme for allotment of industrial plots in April 2010 and recommended six applicants for allotment, but it neither executed the lease deed nor handed over the possession to the allottees. After the Punjab and Haryana high court directions, the corporation cancelled the allotment.

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The corporation was forced to return the money to successful allottees with an interest of around 2 crore; it paid development charges of 1.6 crore and advance income tax of 5 crore.

In 2010, the corporation launched a scheme for allotment of industrial plots at the IT Park at Railmajra in Rupnagar on an area of 12.11 acres at 4,000 per square yard. The plots were to be allotted to 11 successful applicants and development work was given to Punjab State Industries and Export Corporation at a cost of 8.26 crore of which 2.5 crore was paid as advance. But the land on which the IT park was proposed to be developed was categorised as forest land, so an NOC from the forest department became necessary.

Instead of obtaining the NOC, Punjab Infotech decided to cancel the plots. So it suffered a loss of 2.5 crore as advance paid and of 80 lakh paid as development charges.

IT PROJECT, RAJPURA
In 2009, the corporation decided to acquire 1,276 acres of land for setting up an integrated IT and knowledge industry park in six villages of Rajpura. It decided to pay 11 lakh per acre to the farmers, who agitated and demanded 18 lakh per acre. To buy the land, Punjab Infotech took a loan of 133 crore from the State Bank of Patiala. After the agitation, Punjab Infotech decided to drop the project and suffered a loss of 5.78 crore on account of interest paid on the loan, development  charges and consultancy charges.

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