Punjab local bodies minister Anil Joshi on Wednesday suspended six officials of the improvement trust here including the executive officer (EO) and the town planner for dereliction of duty.
The action was taken after they were found prima facie guilty of causing a huge loss to the government exchequer by not implementing an extension scheme in time and letting the seven acres of prime land worth Rs. 50 crore remain with private parties.
The suspended officials are Gore Lal, executive officer; Rajesh Chaudhary, the then additional executive officer (now posted at Nabha); Amarpreet Kaur, town planner; Basant Singh, superintendent; Sanjay, clerk and Jagdeep Singh, the then senior assistant (now posted as superintendent in Nabha).
The suspension orders mentioned that the officials were found playing a suspicious role in an extension scheme near the Baba Zorawar Singh Park here. The scheme was notified as the Shaheed Sewa Singh Thikriwala (SST) Nagar extension scheme.
The scheme announced by the state government in 2006 was not executed and lapsed due to alleged deliberate actions, lackadaisical attitude and vested interest of erring officials.
They have also been accused of misplacing and tampering with the official record pertaining to the extension scheme.
"We had received complaints against the officials for their alleged role in letting the extension scheme lapse deliberately and tampering with the official record to save themselves from action," said the minister.
"Besides, due to delay in announcing the compensation for the land in time, the officials also misplaced the government record", he said.
It may be mentioned here that the state government had notified the extension scheme in 2006 for further development of SST Nagar, which was then developed by the trust.
However, soon after the notification of the scheme was issued, some private parties approached the high court against the trust.
However, the court pronounced the judgment in favour of the trust and gave it a nod to go ahead with the scheme after giving proper compensation to the claimants.
The issue was again challenged in the court but the decision against went in favour of the trust.
Besides taking advantage of the high court orders, the accused officials deliberately ignored the instructions of their seniors to announce the award in order to take possession of the land for development purpose.
In the meantime, the extension scheme lapsed automatically after the stipulated timeframe of five years as the trust officials neither reissued the notification for the scheme nor made efforts to take possession of the land from private parties.
After the scheme lapsed, deputy mayor Harinder Kohli had also taken up the matter with the state government.