Irrigation scam: Punjab vigilance bureau files challan against contractor, five officials
The Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) on Friday filed a challan in a Mohali court in the multi-crore irrigation scam naming six accused, including five officials.
VB officials said the challan has named contractor Gurinder Singh as the prime accused. Executive engineers (XENs) Gulshan Nagpal, Bajrang Lal Singla, chief engineers (retired) Paramjit Singh Ghuman, Harvinder Singh and Gurdev Singh Sian have been names as co-accused.
In the concluding part of the challan, leading construction firm Soma Enterprise Ltd and its director D Subbarayo have also been made accused, said a senior official, who submitted the challan in the court.
“They will be asked to join investigations as we have found evidences of their connivance with department officials and the main accused in escalating the cost some projects,” said the official. In the 4,500-page challan, the VB has investigated three cases, including constructions of Shahpur Kandi Dam, Kandi Canal and setting up of a small dam near Nara village in Hoshiarpur district.
“Though it will take three years to complete the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam, the canal originating from it was constructed in advance just to get benefit. Various discrepancies have been found in the construction of the canal, including cost escalation by department officials on the perusal of the main accused Gurinder, who benefited to the tune of Rs 50 crore,” the VB official said.
Discrepancies have been found in levelling of the reservoir in the construction of a dam for agricultural purpose at Nara. Gurinder also pocketed Rs 2 crore that were to go in the panchayat account, the VB official said.
The VB had asked the irrigation department to provide details of 42 projects, but documents of 35 have been submitted to date, said the official.
The accused have been booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
As Gurinder was closed to many senior IAS officers, the case witnessed many twists and turns. The challan details, however, suggest that the VB probe has not probed the role of department officials. Recently, the VB unearthed a compact disc (CD) containing a “ledger” with details of the bribe that the accused contractor, Gurinder Singh, reportedly paid to people at the helm of affairs in the previous and current regime.
As per an estimate by VB, Gurinder — kingpin of the scam — was favoured to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore in only seven contracts.
The VB probe found that senior officials of the department used to draft the tender as per Gurinder’s suitability and he was awarded drainage repair contracts worth over Rs 3,000 crore in six years — between 2011 and 2017.