Apparently in damage-control mode after fraudulent encashment of government grant cheques using fake bank accounts in cabinet minister Gulzar Singh Ranike's assembly segment Attari, the Punjab government has decided to resort to the e-transfer mode of payment for funds to village panchayats.
Usually, the local leaders collect the cheques of grants from officials and then distribute to panchayats to garner political mileage. But now chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has directed chief secretary Rakesh Singh to ensure that the grants are disbursed directly into the panchayats' accounts through electronic bank fund transfer, said a spokesman from the CM's office. He termed it a bid to bring in transparency.
Meanwhile, rural development minister Surjit Singh Rakhra has already announced for e-payment of the Rural Development Fund.
Over Rs 2 crore of Border Area Development Programme (BADP) grants and rural development grants were found to have been embezzled in Attari. Ranike's staff and son allegedly collected the cheques from rural development offices and encashed these using bogus bank accounts.
RAKHRA TALKS TOUGH
Rural development minister Surjit Singh Rakhra on Friday said that he would probe how grant cheques collected for distribution from his department's block offices were pocketed. He said departmental chargesheets would be issued to the block development and panchayat officers (BDPOs) and other employees. "The cheques were handed over by the officials. And they have to now explain how the funds did not reach the beneficiaries," said Rakhra, adding that he has already sought a report from the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO), Amristar.