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HindustanTimes Fri,25 Apr 2014

Grant guzzler: Tainted Gabria comes ‘clean’

Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times  Ludhiana, October 20, 2013
First Published: 10:16 IST(20/10/2013) | Last Updated: 10:19 IST(20/10/2013)

Indicted in the grants-misuse scam, former Akali minister Hira Singh Gabria on Saturday tried to pass the buck to the monitoring officials.

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The minister said he was ready to face any action if his role was proved. The rural development department already has found him guilty of misusing his discretionary grants between 2007 and 2008.

In his first reaction to a series of reports by Hindustan Times, Gabria stated that if there was any discrepancy in the utilising of grants, the case of fraud should be made out against functionaries in the district development and panchayat office (DDPO) and not him. “It is these nodal officers’ job to spend the ministerial discretionary quota grants and collect the utilisation certificate after ensuring that the purpose is served,” he said. “No minister can check personally where the money was spent,” Gabria added.

Gabria admitted, however, that some of the grants he had given away as minister for culture, tourism and jails in the previous Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government in Punjab had not been spent as intended.

About giving Rs. 2 lakh to a non- existing dispensary run by United Cycles Parts Manufacturer Association (USPMA), Gabria has claimed that when he sanctioned the grant, the dispensary existed. “Why did the DDPO office collect a fake utilisation certificate?” said Gabria.

The former minister, who now is chairman of the district planning committee, said he was not scared of losing any position, if any inquiry found him guilty. “I will not take the blame for others.

Even the chief minister distributes grants in the sangat darshan programmes. Does he collect the utilisation certificates? It’s the duty of the district officials,” said Gabria, district president of the SAD.

Over grant to the organisations led by his personal assistant Mohan Singh Goga and his wife, the minister said the organizations did good work at that time. He accused MLA brothers Balwinder Singh and Simarjeet Bains of plotting against him and called for a look into their income sources as well.

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