More than two months after the state vigilance department started an inquiry into the alleged misuse of a Rs 8 crore loan taken by the Sangrur municipal council in February 2014 from the Sangrur Improvement Trust, the man who brought the issue to public notice — BJP leader Amandeep Singh Punia — has claimed that he was being harassed by officials of the local bodies department.
Interestingly, the loan — meant to be used for development works — was sanctioned just before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the recommendation of MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Parkash Chand Garg even as the term of the municipal councillors had ended and a new House was to be formed after fresh elections, as provided by law. The administration could then be considered the beneficiary of the loan.
The key charge of Punia and others is that the House, even after its reconstitution last year, is yet to furnish details on where the Rs 8 crore were spent.
Who brought the issue to light
Local leaders of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), the junior partner in the state government, brought the issue to light after the promised development failed to materialise, or did not match expectations at any rate.
In April this year, BJP leader Punia filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the local body authority wanting to know the details of the projects on which the loan amount was amount.
“Eight months after I filed the RTI application, I have not been given a proper reply. Instead, I am being harassed with the authorities asking me to report at their offices and then keep me waiting all day, without giving me the answer to the RTI. I have been to the Patiala local body authority four times,” Punia claimed.
He claimed that officials also called him up on November 16 and he went. With the day being declared a holiday, he was made to wait till lunch, he claimed.
“Even the local bodies director has told me thrice that the information will be sent by post. Yet, it has not yet reached me, the petitioner,” he claimed.
Where was the money to be used?
With the loan amount, a drain was to be covered. A number of roads were to be repaired and six tube wells were to be installed.
However, nearly two years after the money was in, only three tubewells have been installed and less than half of the drain has been covered.
The slow pace seems particularly galling when one realises that the new `8 crore loan was taken at a high rate of interest and has ballooned to `13 crore in a year and 9 months.
“We suspect that the money was misused and spent for personal gain of high-profile SAD leaders,” Punia alleged.
What is the case
•The key charge of BJP leader and others is that the Sangrur municipal council House, even after its reconstitution last year, is yet to furnish details on where a loan of `8 crore, given to the council before the Lok Sabha elections last year, were spent.
•With the loan amount, a drain was to be covered. A number of roads were to be repaired and six tube wells were to be installed.
•However, nearly two years after the money was in, only three tubewells have been installed and less than half of the drain has been covered.
•BJP leaders claim that even RTI pleas filed in April 2015 have failed to elicit a response from the local bodies department