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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Will act soon on VB report on PTU financial irregularities: CM

Jasdeep Singh Malhotra, Hindustan Times  Dasuya, May 05, 2013
First Published: 19:51 IST(5/5/2013) | Last Updated: 19:54 IST(5/5/2013)

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has said that he will soon act upon a vigilance bureau inquiry report on alleged financial irregularities in Punjab Technical University (PTU).

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Badal, who also holds the vigilance portfolio, was in town to attend a function related to the marriage ceremony of local MLA Sukhjit Kaur Sahi’s son, Harsimrat Singh Sahi.

Reportedly, over Rs. 30 crore have been paid to seven ‘handpicked’ firms for various projects by the PTU, in alleged violation of the guidelines of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) over the past year or so.

Though the finance committee of the university had decided to stop payments to these firms after March 31, 2013, the authorities concerned have not complied with these instructions till date.

“It usually takes time to complete a VB inquiry. I will check the report regarding PTU financial irregularities,” Badal said, asking his personal assistant to remind him about the issue on Monday.

Rubbishing allegations of going ‘soft’ against these seven  firms, allegedly floated by relatives and family members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and BJP leaders, the CM said that the law would take its course, irrespective of political affiliations. “Affiliation with the Akali Dal or the BJP cannot save an accused from facing legal action,” he said.

A month ago, Badal had admitted to having received complaints of embezzlement against PTU officials. These were forwarded to PTU  board of governors (BoG) chairman SK Munjal, for appropriate action.

Interestingly, a majority of the handpicked firms were incorporated just before allotment of contract by the varsity and have been paid for their services, in spite of no prior experience in running any Distance Education Programme (DEP).

A majority of these firms do not even own websites to showcase their services or list of customers.

A Delhi-based firm NetIIT owned by Praveen Kumar, a batchmate of PTU vice-chancellor (VC) Rajneesh Arora, was appointed as a consultant and was paid over Rs. 17 crore for ‘consultancy’ to improve the DEP.

The NetIIT proprietor preferred to withdraw huge amounts from the bank account at regular intervals.

The previous BoG chairman and chief secretary Rakesh Singh had ordered the VC to terminate NetIIT’s contract nine months ago.

Six firms, handpicked to act as coordinators and facilitators (C&F) on short-term contract basis, have also been paid nearly Rs. 13 crore till date.

A court has recently imposed a stay on PTU decision to appoint C&Fs on a regular basis.

The PTU authorities concerned have also violated the PTU act, the basis for their formation, by not tabling a detailed annual report on their income and expenditure, in the Vidhan Sabha over the last six years of the SAD-BJP rule.

The state government has also preferred not to get finances of the varsity audited, in spite of a provision for the same under Section 23 of the PTU act.

Talwara: Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa has said that the CM was trying to shield alleged corrupt practices of PTU vice-chancellor.

“Badal is fond of making big statements on eradicating corruption, but he is not serious on taking action against corrupt officials. The Congress will raise this issue of these irregularities in PTU, with documentary evidence, in the next session of the Vidhan Sabha. This will expose the true face of the government.”

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