Monday, May 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Now, scam in Cooperation Dept
Vigilance to probe ‘suspicious’ deals
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
One more scam, one more inquiry. This time it is the turn of the Punjab Cooperation Department.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who has been shown documents pertaining to various suspicious looking deals in the department, has directed the authorities concerned to take up the matter with the Punjab Vigilance Bureau to bring out the truth.

The Minister of State for Cooperation, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, told TNS, that he had collected various documents for holding a detailed meeting with the top brass of the Vigilance Bureau. The documents pertain to the purchase of computers, vacation of buildings, purchase of furniture, disbursement of loans to unviable units, grants to schools, contributions towards flood relief fund and recruitments in various wings of the Cooperation Department.

Since many of these matters did not appear to be above board, they decided to hand over the inquiry to the Vigilance Department, he said.

All recruitments made in the Cooperative and Agriculture Development sections of the Department would be scrutinised and reviewed. He said though applications were invited for 13 posts of deputy manager and assistant manager and 12 posts of senior accountant specifying qualifications required for both categories, against these posts 83 persons had been recruited in one particular bank of the Cooperation Department.

In certain cases, even qualification norms were set aside. Likewise, in the Amritsar belt, most of the cooperative banks were overflowing with relatives of previous ruling party politicians. In a cooperative bank at Ropar, third divisioners made it to the list of those selected while candidates with outstanding academic record were ignored.

About the purchase of computers, Mr Samra said that it had come to notice that the proper procedure was not followed and tenders were not floated. Computers were purchased in bulk on the basis of quotations. Two private firms were given orders worth Rs 3 crore, of which the authenticity appears to be suspect as one of these firms had deposited tax of only about Rs 3,200 with the state government concerned, though its supply order was over Rs 1 crore. One semi-government company appeared to have acted as a front party of certain private companies to supply computers to the Cooperation Department.

Then there is the case of vacation of buildings which, it is said, was done under the influence of certain important officials of the state government. A building in a particular sector was hired for Rs 20,000 per month while the owner of the previous building had agreed to reduce the rent of his premises to Rs 15,000 per month. New premises of a Sector 35 branch of the bank was hired at a monthly rent of Rs 85,000 and for interior decoration of this branch, a payment of about Rs 22 lakh was made to a particular private party. Whether the party, handling such big jobs, had the sales tax number or not, it is not clear yet.

Central Cooperative Bank was established at Tarn Taran, violating the guidelines of the RBI. Funds worth Rs 5 crore were diverted from the state Cooperative Bank to the Tarn Taran Bank. However, as it was not opened with due approval, it was unable to secure loans at cheaper rates from the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, said Mr Samra. The state Cooperative Bank gave grants of Rs 25,000 to primary schools (per school), violating the RBI directions.

Then there was a purchase of furniture worth Rs 43.74 lakh in 1997-98 and Rs 1.21 crore in 1998-99 for a cooperative bank at the state headquarters. Why was such a huge purchase made? Were the rules followed? There also is a case of disbursement of loans to unviable units worth several crores, causing a big loss to cooperative banks.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |