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SE Kanjla, 23 other engineers held in bitumen scam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
In less than a fortnight after The Tribune busted the bitumen scam, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau today arrested Superintending Engineer M.S. Kanjla and 23 other engineers in a statewide crackdown. This is, perhaps, the first time in the state's history that so many engineers have been taken into custody by the police in a day.

Preliminary investigation into the matter has revealed that "huge quantities" of bitumen meant for construction and repair of roads in the state were allegedly being diverted by the engineers after taking bribe from trader Satnam Arora.

Proprietor of Messrs Servo Road Lines in Ludhiana, Arora was allegedly mixing bitumen with kerosene for making "cheap" furnace oil before selling it at higher rates to the industries.

"As such large quantities of bitumen were prevented from reaching their destination and were sold in the market by accepting money," the sources in the Vigilance Bureau said. "Roads which should have lasted for eight years were wearing off in two years as a result". The officers, a bureau spokesman said, had allegedly demanded and accepted Rs 4 crore as bribe over the years.

A senior Vigilance officer disclosed that trader Satnam Singh too had been arrested. He added that majority of the engineers were working with the Public Welfare Department (PWD), the Mandi Board and the Punjab Urban Development and Planning Authority (PUDA).

The arrested officials include five executive engineers and as many number of Sub Divisional Engineers (SDOs), besides 13 junior engineers working with the PWD, the Mandi Board and PUDA. Search operations which started even before dawn were still on. More arrests were likely to be made soon.

Giving details of the raids, the sources said 20 teams, comprising about 150 personnel, started raiding the houses of engineers and others accused in the case at Amritsar, Faridkot, Moga, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Hoshiarpur, Khanna, Nawanshahr, Mohali, Jagraon and Chandigarh at around 4 am. The sources added that besides money, the bureau sleuths were able to recover gold jewellery during the raids. A locker belonging to an accused, Gobind Ram, and his wife too had also been seized, according to information reaching here from Bathinda.

They added that a case of criminal breach of trust, cheating, forgery and corruption, besides other offences, has been registered under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, along with other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

He said those arrested are executive engineers D. P. S. Virk, Haripal, Joginder Singh, S S Cheema and T S Chahal. The SDOs include Charanjit Singh Bains, Gurmukh Singh, Narinder Singh Chopra, R S Tiwana and S S Sahota. The junior engineers include Avtar Singh, Baldev Singh, Chander Parkash, Gobind Ram Verma, Gurdial Singh Mangat, Jagdish Rai Singla, Manjit Singh, Parshotam Dass Rana, Rajinder Singh, Sarbjit, Sewa Singh, Tirath Singh and Fauja Singh. The others include Assistant Executive Engineer Dinesh Mehta and two retired executive engineers Balwinder Singh Grewal and K K Chetan.

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