Wednesday, May 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Biggest building bylaws violation scam
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 28
The biggest-ever scam pertaining to the violation of building bylaws involving crores of rupees, which occurred during the five-year tenure of the SAD-BJP-led municipal corporation has been unearthed by the Local Government Department.

The scam came to light when Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, secretary, Local Government, sought the record of the legal notices issued to building violators since 1997 when he was informed that 3,856 files pertaining to legal notices issued to the violators were not traceable.

Thereafter, he directed the Additional Commissioner, Mr Khushi Ram, to trace these within 24 hours or register FIRs against the “guilty” officials. The officials went overboard to locate the missing files. Most files were recovered from the residences of retired or transferred officers. Many files could not be traced as one building inspector, Prem Parkash Sardana, had expired in 1998.

It may be mentioned that the legal notices, issued to building owners, directing them to comply within 72 hours, had not been implemented even after five years. The alarming flagrant violation of building bylaws was due to the alleged nexus of politicians, ministers and officials concerned.

Mr Khushi Ram said during the past five years, legal notices had been issued to 6,911 cases out of which 3,155 were compounded and fine was recovered while 3,856 cases had remained untraced. However, during past 72 hours, the officials of the local Town Planning Department had managed to trace 2,240 cases. However, as many as 109 legal notices were yet to be traced.

When contacted, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal said he would fix the responsibility of the large-scale irregularities in suppressing the legal notices by the officials for the past five years. He said he would ensure that no guilty official went scot-free and said many heads were likely to roll for their involvement in the scam.

Mr Kaushal said the suppressing of legal notices was the main source of corruption as huge amount came through recoveries from the defaulters. He said some of the inspectors concerned had torn the files while many had taken these to their homes. He said criminal proceedings were being initiated against the ‘guilty officials’. Mr Kaushal said the scam was unearthed with the help of ‘FIR register’ of the corporation wherein all legal notices had been registered before their issuance. When the register was scrutinised, as many as 50 per cent of the files were found missing.

Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, said the axe might fall on many erring officers.

About Rs 50 lakh had been recovered by the Municipal Town Planning Department every month from the building violators, both commercial and residential.

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