MC commissioner Parminder Singh Gill has initiated an investigation into allegations that fake bills were processed for payment against a series of road works that were never actually executed on the ground.
HT has learnt that there are 5-6 bills that are under the scanner and one bill that this reporter accessed is of around Rs 15 lakh.
Deputy mayor Harinder Kohli had raised the issue in a Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) committee meeting last week. Mayor Amarinder Singh Bajaj had chaired the meeting and the commissioner was also present.
In the meeting, Kohli alleged that several bills amounting to lakhs of rupees were raised for road construction work that has never actually been done.
“These works were approved and allotted to private contractors in 2011, but these works were not executed then due to shortage of funds,” Kohli had claimed, adding that when Jaspal Pradhan took over as the mayor in 2012, he ordered the cancellation of all these work orders through a proper resolution in an F&CC meeting held then.
“It is shocking that now bills have been raised for payment against those very works that were supposed to be cancelled after F&CC resolution,” he alleged.
Talking to HT, Kohli confirmed raising the issue and said that it seemed the handy work of unscrupulous contractors and erring officials.
“The MC’s engineering branch has not officially cancelled the work orders, in spite of a resolution being passed for the same. These files are now being used to make payments for work that has never been executed,” he said.
Demanding a thorough probe, he said that the hefty taxes collected from the common man should not be allowed to be siphoned off like this.
“We need a fair investigation into the matter,” he claimed.
When contacted, commissioner Gill said that a thorough probe would be conducted and he had asked for a report in the matter.
Mayor Amarinder Singh Bajaj said, “The allegations are indeed serious, if bills were raised against the cancelled work orders, as claimed by deputy mayor. We will fix responsibility on the erring officials if the inquiry substantiates the allegations.”
Another senior councillor Anil Bajaj told HT that the matter, if thoroughly probed, could to discovery of several other scams.
“Last year, I filed an RTI application to seek a list of works which were officially cancelled after the resolution passed by Jaspal Pradhan. I was surprised when the MC’s engineering branch replied that they have no such list of works which were officially cancelled,” he added. “The MC’s reply clearly implies that the files regarding these cancelled orders were yet to be taken on record. The commissioner must thoroughly probe how many bills were raised against such works,” he added
Harkiran Pal Singh back as SE
Two weeks after he was stripped of the additional charge of superintending engineer vide an order from the local bodies secretary, executive engineer Harkiran Pal Singh has again been handed over the charge.
Interestingly, Harkishan was divested off the charge as his appointment was not signed by the secretary. This time, the secretary issued the orders of his additional charge as the MC advocated for the same, citing the shortage of manpower.
Harkiran, however, is still facing an inquiry into unauthorised construction that he allegedly allowed to go unchecked in Patiala.
The inquiry was conducted by a retired sessions judge and its report has been submitted, but the contents are yet to be made public.