Amidst the outcry of public for development, the Patiala Municipal Corporation is carrying out massive development in “files”, as a forged bill scam has come to fore in civic body, involving bogus billing of works worth Rs 50 lakh. The bills were cleared by the authorities, even as no actual work was carried out on the field. And it’s just the tip of iceberg of a big scam, said sources.
Commissioner PS Gill feigned ignorance over the issue, whereas mayor Amarinder Bajaj has written a letter to commissioner to probe the works in ward no. 5 and ward no. 2, for which a private contractor has floated inflated bills, that too without doing any works.
“My duty is to plan development. It is duty of the commissioner to execute and ensure proper payments, thus I have written to commissioner. Mayor has no role in release of any payment,’’ said Bajaj, admitting that he has come to know about forged bills and subsequent payments by MC officials.
Highly placed sources said that in ward no. 5, the Finance and Contract Committee on April 11 cleared tile work worth Rs 12.86 lakh in Ratan Nagar and adjoining areas. The contractor New Janta Co-operative Labour and Construction Society, however, claimed a bill of Rs 24 lakhs. “The company has spent only Rs 4 to 5 lakh, and rest of the tile work, which MC had done in past has been claimed in the measurements books. From junior engineer to senior executive engineer, everyone is involved.
Even XEN Gurpreet Walia, knowingly not signed the bill to avoid his responsibility if scam comes to fore,’’ said sources, who said that the final payment has been released.
Similarly, a bill of Rs 25 lakh was cleared for development work of ward no. 2, which is also fake. The mayor has reportedly asked the officials to stop payment at the last moment.
Sources said that there were three other bills in pipe line, in which the works is carried out by the Improvement Trust and Rural Development Department. “If probed properly, the scam is above Rs one crore”, said an official requesting anonymity.
It’s not first time the, MC has been rocked with fake bills. Earlier in 2008, the fake bills were found by the Vigilance Cell of Local Bodies Department.
Commissioner PS Gill said, “I have not got any letter from mayor. If there is wrongdoing by any official, I will not spare any official,’’ he said. He, however, maintained silence when asked whether the matter was in his notice and discussed by some officials of department.
“There are huge scams in the MC working and there is need of audit of every work. The shabby state of city, potholed roads, poor civic amenities reflects that ‘development’ has taken only in papers and politicians and officials has shared the money claimed through bogus bills,’’ said Congress MLA Brahm Mohindra demanding probe.
He said that if the mayor wrote letters to commissioner, then that meant, he knew everything and in a bid to save his skin, he has passed the buck.