Enjoying political patronage, a panchayat officer, a non-gazetted post, has been illegally holding the charge of gazetted post of block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) of Bhunerheri block in Patiala district without even having powers of Drawing and Disbursing officer (DDO).
Not only this, panchayat officer Baljinder Singh Sodhi, a protege of a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader who had unsuccessfully contested the 2011 assembly elections in the state, has been using the office of BDPO and official vehicle having blue beacon since October.
As per available information, Bhunerheri's BDPO had been transferred in October last year following which Sodhi was given temporary charge. However, a few days later Jaswant Kaur, Sanaur BDPO was formally given additional charge of Bhunerheri BDPO along with DDO powers.
As per the norms, a panchayat officer neither gets any facilities enjoyed by BDPO nor any DDO powers. Moreover, these officers are appointed at directorate level and can't be promoted as BDPO, which is a class 1 officer.
Sources in the department revealed that BDPO Sanaur Jaswant kaur had also written to the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) and other officials concerned complaining them about Sodhi allegedly using the official vehicle and the BDPO office illegally.
"A sum of around Rs 24,200, in two instalments of Rs 16,700 and Rs 7,500, has been disbursed for diesel expenses of Bhunerheri BDPO official vehicle, while Rs 8,000 has been withdrawn for maintenance of the vehicle since October", the sources said.
On a random visit to Sodhi's office, an HT team found the official car being used by him outside the office and a nameplate with BDPO designation installed outside his room.
When contacted, BDPO Sanaur Jaswant Kaur admitted that she had the DDO powers but she was reluctant to comment over the panchayat officer allegedly enjoying all the powers.
On the other hand, Sodhi said he has been holding additional charge of Bhunerheri BDPO but his file has been lying pending with rural and panchayat development ministry and yet to get clearance .
"Once my file will gets clearance, I will get DDO powers too", he said.
On the contrary, DDPO Vinod Kumar said all powers are held by BDPO Sanaur, Sodhi has been only given the task to see development works and to deal with courts cases only.
When pointed out that Sodhi is enjoying the official vehicle and office, Kumar said "I am not aware of Sodhi taking suchy benefits. I will see into the matter and will then take further action".