Finding irregularities worth crores in the collection of rent for 159 shops allotted by the panchayat samiti department in Moga-1 and Moga-2, leading to huge losses to the state exchequer, the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) of Moga has taken up the matter with higher authorities for investigation.
The DDPO, in its report to the director of the Punjab rural development and panchayat department, stated that employees of the panchayat samiti department have not been collecting the outstanding rent arrears worth Rs 1.25 crore of the shops given on lease for a long time. Even if the rent of some shops is being collected, it is not going to the state government, but to the pockets of employees only.
Through his two different letters on Moga-1, which has 90 shops and Moga-2, with 69 shops, the DDPO has sought the setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) to enquire into the matter.
Officials said that the shops were given on lease decades ago and tenants have not been paying the dues as the authorities concerned have been showing negligence in collecting the rent.
The DDPO has mentioned the data of outstanding arrears till March 2015, while the amount has accumulated for this year also. Sources in the department said that rent collectors have been deputed and they also collect rent from tenants, but the money didn’t go to the state government but to the pockets of the employees of the department.
“The block development panchayat officers have been given the additional charge of executive officers of panchayat samiti due to which they did not show any interest in this department resulting in the heavy losses to the department,” officials said.
The DDPO stated, “There is complete misuse of government machinery and even officials of the panchayat samiti department had failed to provide the official data despite repeated attempts.”
Officials said that the rent had never been revised by the department nor the officials have taken any action against the defaulters, who are enjoying free space for decades.
“It has also been learnt that original leaseholders have further sublet their shops and shelling huge rent from them,” officials said. Meanwhile, the rent of the shops is the same that was decided decades ago and ranged between Rs 500 to Rs 1000 a shop.
Chhatar Pal Singh, DDPO, Moga, said that he had put this matter before the higher authorities and they are inquiring into the case.