Rs 57 lakh ‘embezzled’ from panchayat account in Moga
Causing a loss of over Rs 57 lakh to the state exchequer, Dhurkot sarpanch Sarabjit Kaur, in connivance with panchayat secretary Karam Singh, allegedly siphoned off compensation money from the village panchayat account.
The role of suspended block development and panchayat officer (BDPO) Jaspreet Singh and two other panchayat members is also suspected.
Dhurkot village falling under Moga block-1 had received a grant of Rs 71 lakh from the government last year in the form of compensation when the village common land was acquired for the four-laning of national highway-71 (Jalandhar-Barnala road).
Of the Rs 71-lakh compensation, an amount of Rs 57.60 lakh has been spent, official sources said.
As per various complaints received by the officials, the sarpanch and panchayat secretary had withdrawn Rs 57.60 lakh while as per panchayat records, this money has not been spent anywhere in the village.
Following the complaint of village panch Tarsem Singh, additional deputy commissioner (ADC-development) Rishi Pal ordered freezing of all accounts of the panchayat and asked district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) Ravinderpal Singh Sandhu to inquire into the matter.
The DDPO summoned both sarpanch and panchayat secretary with records on Thursday (May 4), but both of them failed to appear before him. The next date of hearing is May 9, officials said.
Panch Tarsem, in his complaint, alleged that the village sarpanch had fraudulently embezzled the compensation amount meant to be used for the development works of the village.
“Not a penny has been spent in the village on development works and the sarpanch, in connivance with other officials, has embezzled over Rs 1 crore from two village accounts,” he alleged.
Sources said the alleged irregularities were committed when the election code of conduct was in place and nobody was allowed to withdraw the money for any purpose.
ADC Rishi Pal, when contacted, said he has got all the village panchayat accounts frozen and further action will be taken after DDPO completes his inquiry. “The inquiry will be completed within two or three days,” he said.
In a similar case, BDPO Jaspreet, in connivance with panchayat secretary Rajwant Singh, had embezzled panchayat funds totalling Rs 26.6 lakh at Ramuwala Kalan village during the same time period when the code of conduct was in place. After HT highlighted the issue both the officials were suspended by the government.