Sarpanch, panchayat secretary suspended for allowing illegal mining in Moga village
The Punjab rural development and panchayats department has suspended sarpanch of Janer village Malwinder Singh and panchayat secretary Harcharan Singh for allegedly misusing their official position and allowing illegal mining on 21 acres of panchayat land.
Confirming the suspension, department’s financial commissioner Anurag Verma said a recommendation has also been sent to minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa to take action against block development and panchayat officer Jagir Singh, who is retired now, for negligence.
“We have also directed the Moga deputy commissioner to take legal opinion from the district attorney for registering a first information report against the sarpanch and panchayat secretary,” Verma said.
“We have issued directions to the director to initiate procedure to dismiss the sarpanch. The district development and panchayat officer has also been asked to recover Rs 65 lakh from the sarpanch and the panchayat secretary and take action under Rule 216 of Panchayati Raj Act for the assessment of loss,” said Verma.
Earlier, Hindustan Times reported that a government inquiry indicted the sarpanch and the panchayat secretary for misusing their position and allowing illegal mining.
The inquiry found that illegal was rampant in the village, which is just 7km from the district headquarters, during 2014-16. The probe was ordered in October 2017 after the general manager-cum-mining officer gave his assessment that illegal mining was taking place on the panchayat land.
In the first week of February, Moga deputy commissioner Dilraj Singh wrote to the director to recover ₹65 lakh from the sarpanch and the panchayat secretary for the loss to the state exchequer due to the illegal mining. He has also recommended legal action against the duo.
Department officials who don’t want to be named say the market rate of the illegally mined sand could be more than Rs 3 crore.