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Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times
Patiala, June 13, 2014
In another revelation in the MNREGA scam, it has come to light that the block panchayat development officers (BDPOs) had bypassed village panchayats and even the technical wing of the rural development department to carry out purchases. Payments amounting to lakhs of rupees were made without getting the materials.

The Punjab police have been sitting on the complaint of district development panchayat officer (DDPO) JS Sandhu who, in a demi-official letter, has asked the police to register an FIR against Samana BDPO Dinesh Vashisht and Patran BDPO Malwinder Singh, whom the inquiry found guilty of lapses in the purchase of materials and utilisation of funds.

The DDPO forwarded t he complaint to the SSP office on May 31 but so far no FIR has been registered. The BDPOs were also provided an opportunity to cover up the irregularities. “Police are giving time to the BDPOs so that they can deposit the amount back to the department, which again is illegal,” said sources in the rural development department. “When the DDPO has asked for registration of an FIR, why is the department not doing so? It clearly shows that some politicians are involved,” sources said.

As per the report accessed by Hindustan Times, the inquiry has summed up eight irregularities that led to the misuse of grants.

The BDPOs bypassed the elected representatives of all village panchayats to purchase the materials. According to norms, the village panchayat has to pass a resolution for the development works; then the panchayat secretary forwards it to the junior engineer to make an estimate; the final nod is given by the department.

However, the BDPOs bypassed all these rules.

The inquiry summed up that the BDPOs made payments to brick kiln owners and manufacturers of water tankers though the material did not reach the department.

Neither the quotations were invited, nor were elected representatives involved in the purchases, and items were purchased at prices way above the market rates.

So far the discreet inquiry in the Samana block has pointed to a Rs. 18 lakh embezzlement in works of Rs. 1 crore, while the detailed inquiry is yet to take place, sources said.

DDPO JS Sandhu confirmed that he had written to the police about a fortnight ago to register an FIR against the two BDPOs. “I have not received any copy of the FIR so far,” he said.

When contacted, SP (detective) Jaskaran Singh Teja said the poli ce had initiated an inquiry and the FIR would be registered soon after bringing the facts on record.