The surfacing of their names in the MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scam has driven the block development and panchayat officers (BDPOs) of Samana and Patran underground, while the police sit on the complaint.
There’s no action on request that the district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) had made for the first-information report (FIR). The BDPOs now egg on the brick makers for delivery but the village panchyats are declining to accept the material arriving now, saying they didn’t order it.
The BDPOs have given the police a slip. On June 10, the cops had let them go on their promise to fetch record. “Why record their statements, when the additional deputy commissioner (development) has indicted them for embezzlement and irregularities, and the DDPO has demanded an FIR against them? The police are delaying the matter to give the officers time to deliver some of the material that was purchased only in papers,” said a source in the district administration.
Brick-kiln owner Tarsem Lal Bhola, whom the BDPOs had paid about Rs. 1.5 crore in the last financial year, accepted before authorities that he had delivered only half of the order. The delivery of nearly 18-lakh bricks worth ` 80 lakh is pending, while the BDPOs have shown this material as delivered. “I have increased the supply to complete the task in a month,” he told HT.
Asked to comment, superintendent of police (detective) Jaskaran Singh Teja said as the BDPOs had not tur ned up for investigation, he would discuss with the senior superintendent of police before lodging a case and beginning inquiry.
‘SHOWS HOW CENTRAL GRANTS WERE USURPED’
Meanwhile, for mer Congress parliamentarian Preneet Kaur has demanded a high - level investig ation into the scam. She said it was a small example of how the Akalis had usurped the union government grants meant for creating jobs in villages. “No official can attempt a swindle of this scale without political backing, and this scam has happened in the hometown of the-then rural development minister, Surjit Singh Rakhra,” she added.
QUESTION TO BE RAISED IN ASSEMBLY
State Congress vice-president Lal Singh said he had listed a question over the scam in the Vidhan Sabha, to be put up in the budget session. “Patran and Samana aren’t exceptions. There’s embezzlement in every block of the district,” he said. Even Shiromani Akali Dal legislator from Patran, Vaninder Kaur Loomba, has demanded a FIR and taken up the issue with deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.