Tender on single bids: File chargesheet against 3 IAS, 4 SEs, probe all tenders, says Navjot Sidhu
Sidhu issued instructions to local bodies department to frame chargesheet against the three IAS officers – Sonali Giri, GS Khera and Ghanshyam Thori.punjab Updated: Jul 26, 2017 10:28 IST
Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday gave orders to chargesheet three IAS officers and four superintending engineers (SEs) for awarding public works worth Rs 500 crore on single bids.
The tenders were awarded by the municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Bathinda during the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government.
Sidhu issued instructions to local bodies department to frame chargesheet against the three IAS officers – Sonali Giri, GS Khera and Ghanshyam Thori – and put up on a “separate file”. The file will be sent to the chief minister’s office for sanction, said an official spokesman. The three officers had allegedly approved some of these work orders while working as commissioners of municipal corporations. The four SEs against whom action has been taken are PK Goel, Kulwinder Singh, Pawan Sharma and Dharam Singh.
Sidhu, who has come down hard on “irregular practices” during the previous government, also ordered a detailed investigation into all tenders allotted under Urban Mission with reference to issues raised by Punjab advocate general Atul Nanda and prima facie evidence available in the report submitted by the chief vigilance officer (CVO), local bodies department. The minister passed the orders after the AG termed the procedure followed in awarding tenders for public works as “not valid and proper”.
The CVO had carried out a sample inspection of files of civil works in the four municipal corporations, examining a total of 1,002 work orders involving Rs 788 crore. Of these, 512 (more than 50%) of public works were awarded on basis of single bids and another 109 work orders were placed on two bids.
Taking cognisance of the CVO’s findings, the minister suspended the SEs, pending department enquiry. The officials requested for a public hearing during which they raised a number of “procedural concerns” with the minister and even cited a circular issued by the department regarding guidelines for acceptance of single bids.
The minister immediately referred the matter to AG for his legal opinion. Nanda, in his detailed opinion to the department, said the award of tender by way of single tender is permissible in law, but under “very rare and exceptional circumstances”, after recording justification on file for this and pursuant to the permission from the competent authority.
“The circular dated 22 February 2011 is not in conformity with law and has no binding effect,” he further advised. Also, in terms of Section 76 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act-1976, the funds allotted to the corporation from any source would be governed by municipal laws.