Sirhind community centre develops cracks, no action against officials yet

  • Ketan Gupta, Hindustan Times, Fatehgarh Sahib
  • Updated: Jun 29, 2015 19:56 IST

While around Rs 1.20 crore spent on the community centre on Khanpur Road in Sirhind are likely to go down the drain as the building has already developed cracks, allegedly due to substandard material used for its construction, the officials responsible for it have not been penalised yet.

Not a single function has been held at the community centre since its completion four years ago. Even the foundation stone of the building has turned into rubble.

Now the centre, which has been built with financial assistance from the Centre under the Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) scheme, has become a safe haven for drug addicts.

Although, the then local bodies minister, Manoranjan Kalia, in 2008, ordered suspension of and punitive action against junior engineer HS Jandhu and chargesheeting of other officers, who were indicted by the vigilance department, the department failed to initiate any action against them in all these years.

The then vigilance director, in his report, had stated, "It is noteworthy that the community centre is situated on a hilltop, but junior engineer HS Jandhu has spent Rs 4,83,306 for earthwork, which is against the tropical features of the site." Similarly, Rs 72,038 were paid to the contractor for removing 848.69 cubic metre of debris from the site, which could be used for filling purposes.

Information gathered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act revealed that the initial budget of this community centre was around Rs 22.5 lakh, of which Rs 12 lakh were to be spent by the Centre, Rs 8 lakh by the state government and Rs 2.5 lakh by the civic body. However, the cost escalated to Rs 1.20 crore due to alleged embezzlement by government officials, who submitted bogus bills.

Retired IAS officer MM Oberoi, who was handed over the inquiry by the department's principal secretary, in September 2013, held Sirhind municipal council (MC) executive officer, executive engineer and junior engineer guilty. However, they have not been penalised to date.

The MC officials said that an inquiry was being conducted and action would be taken against the guilty after receiving a notification from the local bodies department.

RTI activist NK Syal said that tall claims of the Punjab government to wipe out corruption proved to be a farce, as the case remained hushed up all these years. He alleged that Jandhu, who was suspended on June 6, 2008, was reinstated on March 2, 2009, while the inquiry was still pending against him. Syal said that for conducting a fair inquiry, the services of the JE and other culprits should have been terminated and an FIR registered against them.

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