A panchayat secretary allegedly embezzled Rs 1.3 crore grants issued for development works in Attari block during the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) regime by transferring the money into the accounts of a shell firm, a probe has revealed.
The probe points to the possible involvement of some Akali sarpanches in the scam that came to the fore after the Amritsar deputy commissioner formed a team under the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) to probe development works in the area.
“Panchayat secretary Bhupinder Singh had formed a shell firm in the name of his relative. He got bank accounts of the firm opened with Axis and ICICI banks at Attari.
Then he got cheques of various panchayats encashed from these banks but did not spend anything on development works,” deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said at a press conference here on Thursday.
“During investigation, it was found that the accused got cheques of Rs 96.32 lakh from Axis Bank and Rs 35.33 lakh from ICICI Bank encashed. These bank accounts were opened on April 9, 2016, and May 11, 2016. These accounts had money that was meant for development of Atalgarh, Maluwal, Bhakna Khurd, Nathupur, Basarke, Rorha Wala Khurd, Dhande, Dhanoa villages,” the DC said.
“When Bhupinder came to know about the investigation, he deposited Rs 42 lakh in the official bank account of the DDPO to escape action. Senior superintendent of police (SSP rural) J Elanchezhian has been asked to register an FIR (first information report) against the people involved in this scam. Further investigation will be carried out to find other people involved in the scam,” Sangha said,
Three SAD sarpanches — Amandeep Singh (Kotli Naseer Khan), Manjit Kaur (Daoke) and Savinder Singh (Basarke) — who allegedly indulged in bungling of Rs 50 lakh grant released for the construction of toilets admitted that the amount was deposited in the DDPO’s bank account.
It was found in the investigation that these sarpanches had not constructed any toilet. They reportedly handed over a list of toilets which were being constructed by the public works department.