Today in New Delhi, India
Oct 20, 2018-Saturday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Blatant violation of bidding terms in awarding mines: Narang panel

The two mines were at the centre of the hugely embarrassing controversy that broke out just weeks after the Congress formed the government, forcing it to constitute the inquiry commission.

punjab Updated: Oct 07, 2017 10:43 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Blatant violation,bidding terms,bidding for mines
The one-man inquiry panel, which gave a clean chit to Rana Gurjit on all counts, said the bids of Rs 26.52 crore and Rs 9.21 crore by Amit Bahadur and Kulvinder Paul Singh, who were accused of being front-men of the minister, for mines in Saidpur Khurd and Mehadipur villages of Nawanshahr, respectively, were “not sustainable”(HT File)

The Justice JS Narang (retd) Commission, constituted by the Punjab government to look into power and irrigation minister Rana Gurjit Singh’s role in the controversial sand mining auction, found “blatant violations of bidding conditions” in awarding the tender for two mines to persons alleged to be linked to the minister.

The one-man inquiry panel, which gave a clean chit to Rana Gurjit on all counts, said the bids of Rs 26.52 crore and Rs 9.21 crore by Amit Bahadur and Kulvinder Paul Singh, who were accused of being front-men of the minister, for mines in Saidpur Khurd and Mehadipur villages of Nawanshahr, respectively, were “not sustainable”.

The two mines were at the centre of the hugely embarrassing controversy that broke out just weeks after the Congress formed the government, forcing it to constitute the inquiry commission.

The two mines were at the centre of the hugely embarrassing controversy that broke out just weeks after the Congress formed the government, forcing it to constitute the inquiry commission.

In its 85-page report, the Narang commission said the two bidders had given categorical statements that they had neither deposited any amount, including processing fee, earnest money and 50% of the bid money, themselves nor any amount had been deposited through their bank accounts as mandatorily provided in the bidding conditions.

As per bidding conditions number 5 and 25, Amit and Kulvinder were required to deposit the earnest money through their respective bank accounts. “The earnest money was deposited by Sahil Singla from his personal bank account... he is neither an applicant bidder nor is he recognised by the department as a bidder. The violation stands conclusively established,” it said.

Mining dept took deposit in breach of terms

The inquiry report said the department of mines “erroneously” took the deposit of earnest money on behalf of Amit and Kulvinder from the bank account of Sahil. Also, once the bids were accepted, Amit and Kulvinder were required to pay 50% of the bid amount, which came to ₹13.35 crore for Saidpur Khurd and ₹4.61 crore for Mehadipur. However, Sanjit Randhawa, a resident of Chandigarh, deposited this amount for the two mines from his “sole propriety” firm M/s Rajbir Enterprises, according to the report.

Amit and Kulvinder admitted before the commission that they did not deposit any money towards 50% of the bid amount for the two mines. “The violation of condition number 22 stands established,” concluded the panel. The report said that Amit and Kulvinder could not have been allowed to participate in the auction. “The provisional and final acceptance of the bids for Saidpur Khurd and Mehadipur is not sustainable,” it said.

Leader of opposition in Punjab assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who released the commission report at a press conference here, said, Randhawa and Sahil were connected with the power minister and the inquiry panel needed to dig deeper to ferret out the truth in the matter.

Justice Narang had handed over his report to chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh on August 10, but the government kept it under wraps. Khaira got a copy of the report under the Right to Information Act.

‘Both bidders were put up as front men’

The inquiry panel, which was asked to probe whether the two bidders for these mines were bidding on behalf of the minister, said there was ample evidence on record that Amit and Kulvinder were the “front men” of Randhawa and Sahil.

“The entire money has been deposited by Sahil and Randhawa from their accounts and that such monies were not linked with the minister in any manner. Since there is not even an iota of evidence pointing towards the minister for any kind of financial link with the two bidders, the allegation that the two bidders were bidding on behalf of minister is not sustainable,” it said.

The commission also rejected the charge that the minister tried to influence the price bid at which these two mines were awarded, saying that the process and procedure of the auction held on May 19 and 20 was computer-controlled, with no human intervention.

Minister and others

called up mines director

Director, mines, Amit Dhaka, told the inquiry commission that when the auction was scheduled to be held, he received calls from a number of persons, including politicians, regarding the procedure of auction. When the officer was put a specific question by the panel on whether Rana Gurjit had phoned him up prior to the date of auction, he stated that the minister did call up and asked for the procedure and process finalised and prescribed for holding the auction. “No influence was exerted with regard to these two mines or any other mine by the minister,” he told the commission.

Strap/Blurb

Clean chit to Rana Gurjit

One-man inquiry panel gives clean chit to Rana Gurjit on all counts; adds the bids to two men, accused of being front men of the minister, for mines in Nawanshahr, were “not sustainable”.

First Published: Oct 07, 2017 09:59 IST