The inquiry conducted by the state rural development and panchayat department (RDPD), on direction of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, has found a scam amounting to more than Rs 1 crore in rent of 90 shops along with other irregularities.
Since February, Hindustan Times has been raising the issue of revenue collectors failing to collect the rent of 159 shops, allotted by the panchayat samitis of Moga-1 and Moga-2, for years. The amount of rent has accumulated to over Rs 1.25 crore, resulting in huge losses to the state exchequer.
Shivdev Singh, divisional deputy director RDPD, also an inquiry officer (IO), who had started the inquiry on July 05, submitted his report of 90 shops situated in Moga-1 block on Tuesday.
The inquiry report, procured from sources in the department, stated a scam in rent collection had been unearthed along with many other discrepancies in the records resulting into loss to the tune of crores.
In his report, the IO, holding concerned officials responsible negligent for failing to collect rent, stated that it was their duty to collect rents on time and if they were facing any trouble they should have taken action against the defaulters.
He further stated that the concerned officials had not revised the rent in accordance to the rules.
Rules state that the person, to whom property belonging to panchayat samitis or zila parishad is leased out by auction, agrees, three months prior to the expiry of the lease period, to enhance lease money by 10% every year.
The inquiry also found four shops, situated in a posh area near the bus stand, missing from the records of the panchayat samiti.
“Rent of the four shops were collected till 1993, during which the leaseholder filed a case against Punjab Roadways without keeping panchayat samiti a party. After this, neither did the leaseholder pay rent nor are the shops shown in the records,” the report stated, adding that the legal process has been initiated to find the guilty.
The report also held retired executive officer of panchayat samiti-1 Amarjit Kaur responsible for illegally handing over the keys of shop-6, with involvement of the panchayat samiti chairperson.
Shivdev Singh has confirmed that he submitted the report to the department director SS Bains.
KK Arora, chairman of RTI Awareness Forum, the association which had lodged a complaint with the deputy CM, said they will procure the inquiry report through RTI and take legal action even file a writ in the high court if need be.
20 BOOKED, RS 10 LAKH RENT RECOVERED, NOTICES SENT TO REMAINING DEFAULTERS
Finally waking up from its deep slumber, the local district development and panchayat department started taking action against the defaulters. As of now, 20 unauthorised leaseholders have been booked under the public premises act.
“The DDPO department has also started recovering the pending rent and notices have been sent to shopkeepers to deposit their outstanding amount. Arrears of more than `10 lakh have already been collected,” Shivdev Singh said.