Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 23
After cancelling the completion certificates issued since January this year to residential-cum-commercial projects in Zirakpur, the Punjab Local Bodies Department has widened its probe into the issuance of the illegal certificates.
Now, all certificates issued since October 2019 are being probed.
The Chief Vigilance Officer of the department, in an interim report, has pointed out that all the certificates are illegal as the minister in-charge and the department secretary were competent only to accord technical approval before issuance of the certificates by the executive officer concerned of the civic body. The instructions, giving reference of Minister Brahm Mohindra’s directions, were issued on October 18, 2019.
So far, the department has cancelled the certificates issued after Executive Officer Manvir Singh Gill took over in January this year. Gill has already been placed under suspension by the Additional Chief Secretary, Local Bodies Department, Sanjay Kumar.
“Now, the department would cancel all the certificates issued since October last. A public notice is being issued asking all the builders concerned to apply afresh as their certificates stood cancelled," said a government functionary.
Pointing to a larger builder-official-politician nexus, the certificates issued to incomplete projects by the Zirakpur MC were meant to be used by the builders to stop payment of the assured monthly returns to their investors. To attract investment, builders offer assured returns on the investment till issuance of the completion or occupation certificates.
Though the projects are still incomplete on the ground, the certificates managed by the builders help them stop the assured returns to the investors.
The scam came to light after some of the investors reportedly approached a senior government functionary.
Sources said the suspended EO, who is said to have the backing of a Congress leader from Derabassi, had initially stated that he had not issued any certificates. But after facing pointed queries from the vigilance teams, he is learnt to have admitted to issuing the certificates. The vigilance is struggling to gets its hand on the entire record pertaining to the projects, it is learnt.
The EO did not even carry out physical verification of the projects for issuing fire safety no-objection certificate or giving permissions for sewerage and water connections and setting up of sewage treatment plant. Official record pertaining to some of the projects is said to be missing.
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