A day after the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) ordered a probe into the multi-crore land acquisition scam in Hoshiarpur, which was exposed by Hindustan Times, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal also ordered an inquiry by the vigilance department.
A spokesperson for the chief minister’s office said Badal had asked the chief vigilance director to conduct the probe and categorically stated that the guilty would not be spared.
Speaking on the sidelines of a sangat darshan in Nakodar, the CM said land purchased by some influential people at lower rates, which was acquired by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to undertake four-laning project in Hoshiarpur district on exorbitant rates to pocket heavy compensation was a serious issue.
The scam involves three leaders from Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal, their relatives and property dealers besides government officials who earned more than `100 crore by buying land already notified for the four-laning project.
The Akali leaders, Avtar Singh Johal, Harpinder Gill and Satwinder Pal Singh Dhatt, bought the land notified for the road and the property rights transferred to the National Highways Authority of India in 2015. The three leaders then built illegal colonies on these sites and pocketed crores in compensation.
On Thursday, when HT quizzed Badal about the scam, he seemed in no mood to order a vigilance probe and ordered the Hoshiarpur deputy commissioner to prove the allegations against Akali leaders and officials.
A FACE-SAVING EXERCISE: CONG
Meanwhile, the Congress has termed the vigilance inquiry ordered by the CM an attempt to obstruct the probe ordered by the PMO.
“The CM landed in an embarrassing situation when he came to know that the PMO has ordered a probe. The vigilance probe ordered on Friday is a face-saving attempt by the CM. Moreover, everybody knows the tactics of the vigilance department in probing the cases,” said Congress’ chief spokesperson Sunil Jakhar.