Three junior engineers (JEs) of the Punjab PWD, electrical wing, have been placed under suspension for illegally withdrawing funds in the name of maintaining and decorating the Punjab Raj Bhawan besides residences of the chief minister and ministers.
The JEs - Dharmesh Sahota, who had an additional charge as sub-divisional officer to maintain electrical works at these VVIP premises, and Didar Singh and Rakesh Kumar - were placed under suspension on July 20 after a preliminary inquiry.
PWD (electrical) chief engineer Baldev Singh confirmed this. Though he refused to give details, sources in the department said these officials had even withdrawn money as miscellaneous advance in the name of depositing electricity bills for the Cedar guesthouse of the Punjab government and the Hemkunt rest house for the governor in Shimla.
It was also found that these officials showed expenditure in lakhs on diesel for running generators installed at the Punjab Raj Bhawan, Punjab Bhawan and at the chief minister's residence despite the fact that these VVIP premises enjoy an uninterrupted power supply.
Fake bills were also shown and the funds withdrawn by them for payments in the name of lighting the residences of the chief minister, ministers and senior bureaucrats on Diwali, sources said, while quoting the inquiry report.
Chief engineer Baldev Singh did not rule out these irregularities. "I will not spare them as they have crossed all limits," he said.
The purchase of LCDs and other costly electrical gadgets during the tenure of these JEs would also be looked into, a senior official said.
One of the suspended officials had reportedly floated his own firm on paper in the name of which several vouchers worth lakhs were also encashed in the past one year. The funds meant for payment of water and electricity bills and to the contractors were also allegedly diverted in the name of purchases or encashing fake vouchers.
JE Dharmesh Sahota has reportedly been told to report at the office of the Bathinda circle executive engineer, while Didar Singh and Rakesh Kumar have been told to report at Jalandhar and Fatehgarh Sahib, respectively.
The instructions to transfer them from Chandigarh reportedly came from the chief minister's office as he was annoyed at the findings of the inquiry report. Now, a detailed inquiry to fix the responsibility is being initiated.