The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has detected a Rs. 8-crore scam in civil works executed by the Bathinda Development Authority (BDA) just before the January 30 Punjab elections.
The VB has booked 12 persons in connection with the scam a chief engineer, a superintending engineer, an executive engineer (XEN), two subdivisional officers (SDOs), three junior engineers, an accountant and three contractors.
Suresh Arora, director general of police (DGP), VB, said, "We had conducted an inquiry in electrical works executed by the BDA in Maur Mandi, Budhlada and Mansa towns. It was detected that accused government officials, in connivance with private contractors, caused a loss of Rs. 8.02 crore to the state exchequer. Further investigation is in progress."
When contacted, Bathinda senior superintendent of police (vigilance) Sukhdev Singh Chahal confirmed that a case under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 120-B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered at the vigilance police station here against 11 persons.
Chanchal Ram, executive engineer, and contractor Pawan Kumar Singla have been arrested, while raids are on to nab the other accused, he added.
Besides Ram and Kumar, those booked have been identified as BDA chief engineer Tirlochan Singh, superintending engineer Paramjit Singh, SDOs Harwinder Singh and Suresh Kaushal, junior engineers Jasbir Singh, Gurdeep Singh and Swaranjit Singh, accountant Amit Garg, and contractors Kulbir Sahni and Bhushan Thukral.
Sources told HT that funds to the tune of Rs. 13 crore were released for works in Maur Mandi, Mansa and Budhladha towns, falling in the Bathinda parliamentary constituency represented by Harsimrat Kaur Badal, before the assembly elections. Streetlights and other works were executed in haste and the accused used substandard material and also released a huge amount for non-existent works, the sources added.
The case was registered following a preliminary inquiry conducted by the VB on the directions of the state government. The bureau had begun the probe following complaints in June.
During the investigation, the VB team found a considerable difference between the rates charged by contactors allegedly in connivance with BDA officials and the market rates. Some works had been shown as done on paper only.
Last week, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had reportedly directed the VB DGP to register a case against BDA officials for using substandard material in civic works in Bathinda and Mansa.