Govt to reprobe Ghaggar scam

PATIALA: Five years after an SP-ranked officer recommended the cancellation of an FIR against erring officials and the contractor in the multi-crore Ghaggar scam by “overruling” recommendation by the Estimates Committee of the Vidhan Sabha, the government has decided to reopen the case.

editorial@tribune.com

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 10

Five years after an SP-ranked officer recommended the cancellation of an FIR against erring officials and the contractor in the multi-crore Ghaggar scam by “overruling” recommendation by the Estimates Committee of the Vidhan Sabha, the government has decided to reopen the case.

The project was initiated in January 2007. The government had decided to construct a weir (low dam) on the Ghaggar to ensure round-the-year water supply in Banur canal. The work was to be completed in six months. But till date, the work is pending despite many extensions given to the same contractor by irrigation officials till 2009.

The contractor left the project midway after an FIR against him. Two years ago, controversial contractor Gurinder Singh was allotted the same work. The tenders were allegedly floated at exorbitant rates. However, he too booked by the VB in August last year in a separate case involving irrigation works.

A report was submitted in 2010 by Vidhan Sabha committee chairman Virsa Singh Valtoha. He had recommended action against executive engineers and the contractor in the multi-crore scam. “Everyone from the top to bottom was united in this act of corruption,” read the Vidhan Sabha report that held a number of officials guilty.

The report had mentioned that the government should get an FIR lodged against the contractor, besides blacklisting him. Following this, the Patiala police registered an FIR on July 31, 2011, under Sections 420, 465, 468, 471 and 120-B IPC against DS Pannu and Associates, the contractor.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that following an inquiry by an SP-rank officer, the Patiala police recommended the cancellation of the FIR in 2012 on the ground that since the contractor’s experience certificates were not signed by him, he could not be held responsible for cheating.

Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh told The Tribune that the previous SAD-BJP government had closed the case and the erring officials and the contractor got the FIR cancelled. “I will not let that happen as the Vidhan Sabha committee had found irregularities. We will fix the accountability of the accused officials,” he said.

Former Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh said the police could not cancel the FIR by overruling the Vidhan Sabha committee report. “This means that the dignity of the House had been compromised. The guilty should be brought to book,” he added.

Controversial contractor

  • In January 2007, the govt had decided to construct a weir (low dam) on the Ghaggar to ensure round-the-year water supply in Banur canal 
  • The work was to be completed in six months. But till date, the work is pending despite many extensions given to the same contractor by irrigation officials till 2009
  • The contractor left the project midway after an FIR against him. Two years ago, controversial contractor Gurinder Singh was allotted the same work. The tenders were allegedly floated at exorbitant rates
  • A Vidhan Sabha committee report had recommended action against executive engineers and the contractor in the multi-crore scam

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