English News


Bureaucrats stonewall Punjab CM’s probe into Rs 10.28 crore scam

Punjab bureaucrats have stonewalled an inquiry ordered by the Bhagwant Mann government into a Rs 10.28 crore scam (Pic. Courtesy ANI)

Chandigarh: Punjab bureaucrats have stonewalled an inquiry ordered by the Bhagwant Mann government into a Rs 10.28 crore scam involving Ferozepur’s Congress ex-MLA Parminder Singh Pinki.

Acting on a complaint of Aam Aadmi Party’s Ferozepur MLA Ranbir Singh Bhullar, Punjab Chief Minister  Bhagwant Mann ordered an inquiry in August 2022 into the Rs 10.28 crore compensation awarded to farmers of 37 villages that were affected by floods in 2019. The majority of the poor farmers did not receive any financial aid.

The inquiry was part of the AAP government’s “Zero Tolerance Towards Corruption” policy.

The Financial Commissioner, Revenue KAP Sinha, on September 2, 2022, directed the then DC Ferozepur Ms Amrit Singh IAS to look into the matter and promptly send a report to the government. The DC sat on the file for about four months and in December 2022, asked the tehsildar Sukhbir Kaur to conduct an inquiry under the Zero Tolerance Towards Corruption policy.

As many as 11 ‘patwaris’ (field revenue officials) were called for questioning by the tehsildar. They told the tehsildar, “We do not have any record of the distribution of the compensation.” However, tehsildar Sukhbir Kaur relying on the annual audit report and the utilisation certificate issued by her predecessor Lakhwinder Singh sent inconclusive findings to her superiors.

When contacted by indanarrative.com, the tehsildar disclosed that the matter was now being looked into by District Revenue Officer (DRO) Arvind Verma. The DRO refused to talk to this correspondent.

The then tehsildar Lakhwinder Singh could not answer whether he distributed the compensation as per the crop damage Assessment Register (AR). Sources maintain the AR is missing from revenue records. However, no FIR has been registered regarding the missing register.

As per norms, crop damage compensation is to be directly credited to the bank accounts of the identified farmers, as mentioned in AR, through account payee cheques. The farmers are not paid in cash to check the possibility of fraud.

Very recently, on March 9, the Ferozepur Commissioner D.S. Mangat wrote a letter to the incumbent DC Rajesh Dhiman telling him that his office had not received the inquiry report to date though the CM sought a prompt response in August 2022.

Ex-MLA Pinki neither replied to questions sent to him about his reported involvement in the scam. He did not answer several calls made by this correspondent either.