In a first, Sidhu hears out suspended SEs in presence of 9 MLAs
The hearing went on for over an hour, in which the engineers said they allotted works through e-tendering and approval for the rates was taken from their superiors in the department, based in Chandigarh headquarter.punjab Updated: Jul 11, 2017 21:55 IST
In a first-of-its-kind move, Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu gave a public hearing to four superintendent engineers whom he had suspended last week. Sidhu had said the four engineers allotted Rs 500 crore of development work without any competition or negotiation to bring down the work cost during the previous SAD-BJP regime. Total works that these engineers allotted were of Rs 800 crore.
As Sidhu heard out the engineers’ side of story, nine Congress MLAs sat beside the minister and posed counter questions. The hearing went on for over an hour, in which the engineers said they allotted works through e-tendering and approval for the rates was taken from their superiors in the department, based in Chandigarh headquarter.
SEs PK Goel, Kulwinder Singh, Pawan Sharma, and Dharam Singh were given personal hearing. MLAs Pargat Singh, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Surinder Dawar, Sunil Datti, Sanjeev Talwar, Rajinder Beri, Avtar Henri Jr and Raj Kumar Verka were also present.
“Who ordered you to circumvent the procedure laid in different acts governing the functioning of the local civic bodies. Give me in writing in case, the orders came from high-ups,” said Sidhu.
Raising concerns, MLAs said in the past, works were allotted after negotiating a cut in offered rates between 12-28% in the cost of works. “In this case, the SEs negotiated a cut of only 1-2% causing a huge loss to the state exchequer,” said MLA Ashu MLA from Ludhiana.
MLAs alleged that in a number of cases, works have not taken place despite the fact that payments have been made.
Sidhu said for these works, the local MC House had to pass a resolution and take clearance from the finance and contract committee.
“To my shock, the route was bypassed and then mayors and councillors used to complain,” said Sidhu. The local bodies minister said he would take further action based on merit and they could meet him. Suspensions of senior officials and engineers will follow, if their names cropped up in irregularities, he added.
‘Not under any pressure’
Sidhu clarified that he was not under any pressure, that he was holding an open court to give hearing to the suspended SEs to be fair in his working. “The council of ministers, in its first meeting after the government formation, decided to review all the development works with a cost over Rs 10 crore. I am not doing anything extraordinary, just following the mandate of my government of which I am a part,” said Sidhu.