‘Probe Sikh shrine board’s land deals’
Some members of the Sikh community have accused the administrator of the second most important Sikh shrine in the world, the Nanded Takht (Sri Hajur Sahib), of financial irregularities and nepotism in the last seven years.mumbai Updated: May 18, 2011 00:46 IST
Some members of the Sikh community have accused the administrator of the second most important Sikh shrine in the world, the Nanded Takht (Sri Hajur Sahib), of financial irregularities and nepotism in the last seven years.
PS Pasricha, the administrator, who is a former director general of Maharashtra police, is alleged to have sold properties owned by the Nanded Takht at much lower prices.
Pasricha was made sole in-charge of the Takth board after the government dissolved a 15-member state-appointed board, of which he was chairman, in 2009.
Sher Singh Fauzi, former chairman of the Takht managing board and general secretary of the Nanded unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), alleged that Pasricha sold a board property in 2006 in Sion Koliwada for Rs45 lakh when the market price was Rs2.5 crore.
“Pasricha sold a vacant plot in Deglur town for Rs2 lakh against the market price of Rs25 lakh. A one-acre plot in Nanded was sold at Rs1 crore though it commanded a price tag of Rs25 crore.”
Pasricha said it was a conspiracy against him by a Congress legislator from Mumbai, Charanjit Singh Sapra, and Fauzi. “Both want to gain control of the board. Fauzi has several criminal cases against him,” Pasricha said.
Pasricha said that Sapra, then a board member, had himself identified a Sikh purchaser after the board’s approval. “We took the government’s permission for the sale.”
He said the Deglur plot was sold because the board was unable to control encroachment on the land and the Nanded land had to be given to the government at ready reckoner rates to create infrastructure for the Gur-ta-Gaddi celebrations — tercentenary celebrations of the Guru Granth Sahib’s consecration — which took place in 2008 at Nanded.
Fauzi told the Hindustan Times that he has asked chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to initiate a Central Bureau of Investigation probe.
“The amount involved may be around Rs400 crore,” said Fauzi, who along with community members sat on a hunger strike at Nanded to press for the probe.
Chavan declined comment on the issue.
Pasricha also allegedly misappropriated donations collected during the nine-month Jagruti Yatra that culminated in Nanded before the Gur-ta-Gaddi celebrations.
Pasricha, however, said the yatra gathered Rs18 crore in donations. “The amount is audited. In fact, the board now has Rs32 crore in its coffers. When I took over, we had just Rs8-9 crore.”
He is also accused of taking a salary of more than Rs1 lakh and continuing to live in his official residence in Mumbai. However, Pasricha said he did not take any salary. “Pasricha hired his relative, DP Chawla as a superintendent on a salary that was higher than four other superintendents in the takht. He gave civil works contracts to relatives at higher rates,” said Fauzi in his letter to the CM.
Sapra told HT he tried to stay away from the controversy, but he said, “There are certain issues which are relevant and may be investigated.”