Three suspended engineers of the Punjab public works department's (PWD) electrical division have been chargesheeted for embezzling nearly Rs. 3 crore of the state exchequer's money. If indicted for the charges framed, the accused could lose their jobs, as per service rules.
In a news report ('State suspends 3 engineers for fraud', July 29), Hindustan Times had highlighted embezzlement by junior engineers Dharmesh Sahota, Didar Singh and Rakesh Kumar.
An accountant, Harminder Kaur, has been chargesheeted for conniving with Sahota in financial bungling.
As per the charges framed, Sahota has been held responsible for fake purchases to the tune of Rs. 1.44 crore. Sahota had the additional charge of sub-divisional officer (SDO) to maintain electrical works on VVIP premises here. Didar and Rakesh have been charged with embezzlement of Rs. 1.08 crore and Rs. 29.65 lakh, respectively. The financial bungling was committed between August 2011 and March 2012.
Several vouchers shown in the fake purchases did not bear valid VAT (value-added tax) numbers. For example, a payment of Rs. 6.46 lakh was made to non-existent firm 'Tiger Electricals' within a month. No quotations were sought for such purchases.
According to another charge, the purchase of 10,000 litres of diesel (at a cost of Rs. 4.18 lakh) was shown in one month (March 2012) to run generators in case of a power failure on VVIP premises such as Punjab Raj Bhawan, CM's residence and cabinet ministers' residences. All these premises have a hotline, rendering negligible the chances of power failure.
Fake bills running into lakhs of rupees were also found for 'payments' in the name of lighting the premises of the chief minister, ministers and senior bureaucrats on Diwali.
Though the embezzlement pertains to an eight-month period, the Punjab auditor general (AG) has begun re-audit of entire financial accounts in the state's PWD (electrical division, Chandigarh) office here, a senior official confirmed.
"A team from the auditor general's office has begun the audit of accounts of the past three years," stated the draft chargesheet that was forwarded to PWD (electrical) chief engineer Baldev Singh.
The chief engineer chargesheeted the three engineers recently, seeking their explanation within 21 days.
* Dharmesh Sahota held accountable for embezzlement of Rs. 1.44 crore on the pretext of fake purchases of CFL bulbs, refrigerators, TV sets, LCDs, DTH recharge and other costly electrical appliances installed on the premises of VVIPs, including the residence of the Punjab chief minister and ministers.
* Didar Singh held accountable for similar financial bungling amounting to Rs. 1.08 crore
* Rakesh Kumar charged with embezzlement of Rs. 29.65 lakh through fake purchases
* Accountant Harminder Kaur charged with conniving with Sahota in financial bungling and causing loss to the state exchequer.