Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today ordered an inquiry into the alleged scam related to purchase of land in district Fatehgarh Sahib in which crores were said to have been embezzled. The chief minister said the matter would be thoroughly probed. He was intervening on a calling attention notice raised by Mohali MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu regarding bungling of crores of rupees in the purchase of the said land at exorbitant rates – almost double the prevailing market rate.
Sidhu, in his calling attention notice during the budget session, informed the House that officers of the department did not seek sanction from the competent authority before purchasing this land. He further said the crores that had been withdrawn were spent only on paper instead of being utilised for actual development works. He sought a vigilance enquiry into the matter to ascertain the factual position.
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The MLA drew the attention of Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa towards the issue, in response to which the minister provided details of the acquisition done during the SAD-BJP rule. In a statement, the minister apprised the House that the previous government had acquired land of Gram Panchayat, Jheurheri village, for the construction of airport and the compensation was awarded at the rate of Rs 1.50 crore per acre.
On account of this, a sum of Rs 80.46 crore was placed at the disposal of Director, Rural Development and Panchayats and the said amount was released by him from time to time. Out of this compensation, a sum to the tune of Rs 54.17 crore was received in lieu of Gram Panchayat, Deh and an amount of Rs 26.31 crore was received in lieu of Shamlat Deh. An amount of Rs 49.16 crore out of Rs 54.17 crore was released to Gram Panchayat, Jheurheri. The Gram Panchayat utilised Rs 23.73 crore on purchase of land out of the amount of Rs 49.16 crore released to it.
Moreover, the Gram Panchayat did not seek prior approval of the government before purchasing this land as per the provisions of Section 85 (1) of Punjab Panchayati Raj Act, 1994. It also spent Rs 13.77 crore on development and miscellaneous works while Rs 11.52 crore is still lying in the account of gram panchayat. The minister also informed the House that an enquiry was being conducted by the Joint Director of the department regarding the amount spent on the purchase of land, its market rate and amount spent on the development works, which would become clear on completion of the probe.