Shinde tells home secretary to probe border grant scam | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Shinde tells home secretary to probe border grant scam

Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has ordered an audit into utilisation of Border Area Development Programme (BADP) funds in Punjab after a meeting with a delegation of Congress leaders from the state. A senior leader of Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), resigned after HT presented damning evidence of the scam in a series of reports. The Bajwa-led delegation shared the HT reports with Shinde.

chandigarh Updated: Sep 20, 2012 23:52 IST
Vishal Rambani

Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has ordered an audit into utilisation of Border Area Development Programme (BADP) funds in Punjab after a meeting with a delegation of Congress leaders from the state.

"He (Shinde) has directed the secretary of the union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to conduct an audit," said Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa, who led a delegation of Congress MLA and Gurdaspur district Congress committee (DCC) chief Sukhjinder Randhawa, Amritsar DCC president Harpartap Singh Ajnala and MLA SS Sukhsarkaria, as they met Shinde in New Delhi for a CBI inquiry into the embezzlement of funds in former Punjab cabinet minister Gulzar Singh Ranike's constituency Attari in Amritsar district.

The home ministry releases the grant, which was siphoned off by depositing the cheques in fake accounts opened in the names of beneficiary panchayats' members. The state government submitted utilisation certificates even as the villages never got the money.

Ranike, a senior leader of Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), resigned after HT presented damning evidence of the scam in a series of reports. The Bajwa-led delegation shared the HT reports with Shinde.

In the formal memorandum handed by the leaders to Shinde, it is alleged that the Akalis used central grants to buy votes. "The recent revelations… are an eye-opener. It is shameful that the Akali-BJP ministers… have even siphoned off the funds under the Shagun scheme meant for poor girls at the time of their marriage."

The leaders alleged that the embezzlement is not limited to Ranike, and sought a probe into all funds released in the last five years under the BADP, besides holdback of further release of funds till the probe ends.

As per initial estimates, Rs 42 lakh of the 2008-09 BADP grant were found siphoned off, while similar embezzlement of Rs 20 lakh was detected in the 2011-12 grants. Apart from this, an embezzlement of Rs 2 crore has been detected from rural development funds and discretionary grants of Ranike.

An FIR was registered into the embezzlement of BADP funds last year, and into the pocketing of discretionary grants this June. The Punjab government has shifted the probe to the state vigilance bureau.