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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Cong councillors smell rat in green belt project

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, May 10, 2013
First Published: 20:49 IST(10/5/2013) | Last Updated: 20:50 IST(10/5/2013)

Dynamic group of councillors of the Congress on Friday alleged embezzlement of over Rs. 15 lakh in the green belt development project. The work of green belt development was allotted to a local contractor by the municipal corporation in March 2011.

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The councillors claimed that the contractor didn't do the work as per specifications and still managed to clear his bills by conniving with the corporation officials.

Addressing a press conference, councillors Sushil Kumar Rinku, Bal Kishan Bali, Sarwan Grover, Amit Dhall, Harsimranjit Singh, Kawaljeet Kaur Gullu, Amanjit Kaur Major and Darshan Lal Bhagat, produced tender documents and bills submitted by the contractor and alleged that contractor Gaurav Gupta had included those items in the bills which were not enlisted in the tender specifications.

A tender for development of green belt on both sides of GT Road from BSF Chowk to Khalsa College was allotted to the contractor on March 14, 2011 and as per terms of tender, the contractor was plant saplings and take care of watering and maintenance of plants for four years.

“Wild vegetation is the only thing in the name of greenery along the said stretch of GT Road. Moreover, a number of items in the bills were not even enlisted in specifications. For planting 1,157 rare and specimen plants, the contractor had submitted a bill of 9,47,293, while on the ground not even a single such sapling was planted,” said Rinku, while showing the photographs of some rare trees planted on roadsides in other cities.

“The contractor had submitted a bill of Rs. 1,59,600 for dismantling, Rs. 2,31,124 for removing malba and Rs. 2,20,249 for earth filling. The bills had been cleared by almost all the officials from clerk to commissioner,” he added.

The working of municipal corporation, which is being ruled by BJP-SAD coalition, had already come under scanner when leader of opposition Jagdish Raj raised the issue of anomalies in payments made to street light contractors. Later, a committee was formed under the chairmanship of senior deputy mayor Kamaljeet Singh Bhatia to probe into the allegations. The committee, later recommended penalties to the tune of Rs. 36 lakh on the contractors, besides relinquishing additional commissioner (o&M) PS Jaggi of the charge.

“Municipal corporation had been functioning in a self-styled manner as if there were no rules and regulations. Every official of the civic body is making fool of the people. We will take up this issue with vigilance department and demand an independent inquiry into the matter,” said Bal Kishan Bali.

“After showing the work done by the contractor, we consulted an independent contractor who claimed that this work could have been completed in Rs. 3 lakh only. But contractor Gupta has submitted bills totalling Rs. 17,97,618. As per our estimate, there is embezzlement of over Rs. 15 lakh,” Rinku said.

Mayor Sunil Jyoti said that he was seized of the issue and he had already directed the audit branch officials to specifically check the contents of bills before making payments. “Rest assured, we will not allow the bills to be cleared unless the work done matched with the need and specifications. I will personally keep a tab on it,” he said.

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