Sunday, December 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Irrigation scam: CE suspended
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Punjab Government has suspended Chief Engineer (CE), Sukhjinder Singh Sandhu, Superintending Engineer, Jarnail Singh, and Executive Engineers Gurmail Singh and Anil Khosla in connection with a multi-crore scandal pertaining to the Upper Bari Doab Canal remodelling project of the Irrigation Department.

Sources said today that following reports of the scandal, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had set up a special inquiry committee under the chairmanship of Mr Bhagat Singh, adviser to the Chief Minister on irrigation and canal water matters. Other members of the committee were Mr Jasbir Singh, Chief Engineer (Vigilance), Irrigation Department, and four Executive Engineers. The suspensions have been ordered on the basis of the preliminary report submitted to the government by the committee, it is learnt.

A senior officer of the Irrigation Department, confirming the suspension, said action had been taken on the orders of Capt Amarinder Singh. He said the report was being examined at the top level for initiating further action with regard to the scandal. “The findings of the committee are of grave nature”, he added.

The remodelling project of the canal was taken up by the Irrigation Department a few years ago. It was worth Rs 180 crore and out of it Rs 100 crore was already released to take up the remodelling project. While 75 per cent of the fund for the project was provided by the Union Government, the remaining has been contributed by the Punjab Government.

There are reports that the Chief Minister has taken a serious notice of the scandal and has ordered that no one involved in it should be spared. More heads are expected to roll in due course as a large number of officials of the junior level are also said to be involved in the scandal. It may also have a political fallout. The sources said family members of a senior politician were project contractors and inspite of several complaints against senior engineers working on the project, they were not transferred from there.

This is the first major scandal unearthed by the state government in a government department.

The inquiry committee, according to the sources, had found several faults in the execution of the remodelling work. The lining work on the canal collapsed at several places following the release of water.

A large number of sand bags were shown to have been used to strengthen the banks of the canal. However, the committee found that the number of such bags was far less than shown in records. Old iron gates were installed at certain places across the canal to regulate the flow of water.

The government, according to the sources, was considering to get a criminal case registered in this connection.

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 |