Punjab Vigilance Bureau Catches Contractor Involved in Grain Market Tender Scam
FIVE ACCUSED APPREHENDED SO FAR IN THIS SCAM
Chandigarh, November 13: The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) has arrested another accused contractor named Ajaypal, a resident of village Udhanwal in SBS Nagar, who was involved in committing a fraud regarding labor cartage and transport tenders in grain markets of SBS Nagar district in connivance with other contractors and concerned officers/employees of the Food and Civil Supplies department and procurement agencies. He was avoiding his arrest in this case but due to continuous raids by the VB at his various locations, he surrendered before the competent court. The Bureau has arrested the said accused on Monday and succeeded in getting his two days police remand from the court.
Disclosing this today, the spokesperson of the VB said in this regard, a case had already been registered against the former food and civil supplies minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, his PA Pankaj Kumar alias Menu Malhotra, Deputy Director RK Singla, DFSC Rakesh Bhaskar, besides three contractors, namely Telu Ram, Yashpal, and Ajaypal, (all residents of village Udhanwal) for committing this fraud and embezzlement, causing huge losses to the State exchequer.
He further informed that the Bureau, after investigating this scam in the grain markets of SBS Nagar, had registered a case No. 18 on 22-09-2022 against the above-mentioned accused under sections 420, 409, 467, 468, 471, 120-B, and under sections 7, 8, 12, 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act at Police Station VB, Jalandhar.
Revealing more information in this regard, the spokesperson said during filling of tenders for labor cartage and transport in the grain markets for wheat/paddy/stock articles in the year 2020-2021, Honey Kumar, the proprietor of RS Co-operative labor and construction society, had submitted tenders for Nawanshahr and Rahon clusters, and another entity P.G. Godown had filed tenders for Nawanshahr only at basic tender rates but were rejected by the department without any reasons. These tenders were awarded to contractor Telu Ram for the Nawanshahr cluster at 71 percent higher rate and the Rahon cluster at 72 percent higher rates. Later, the tenders called for the year 2022-23, the said Honey Kumar again submitted tenders at basic rates for labour works in the Rahon cluster and Nawanshahr cluster from his above-said firms, but the district tender allocation committee rejected his bids and allotted these tenders to contractor Ajaypal at 73 percent higher rates for the works in the Nawanshahr cluster and 72 percent higher in the Rahon cluster, he added.
He further said the said contractors Telu Ram and Yashpal, at the time of filling the tenders for the year 2020-21, and contractor Ajaypal during the year 2020-21 and 2022-23, had attached online lists regarding registration numbers of vehicles for transportation of goods, which were verified by the respective district transport authorities. During the investigation by VB, it was found that in these lists, a large number of vehicles such as scooters, motorcycles, cars, pickups, tractor trailers, close body trucks, LPG tankers, and harvesters, etc., were mentioned, whereas the food grains could not be transported on such vehicles.
During the probe, it has been established that along with the registration numbers of fake vehicles mentioned in the gate passes, the details of the quantity of food grains are prima facie a case of fake reporting and embezzlement shown in the gate passes also. He said the concerned officials/employees of the department had also paid amounts to the said contractors for the work done without verifying these fake gate passes.
He further revealed that apart from this, on checking the photocopies of Aadhaar cards of the labour provided by the said contractors during the tender process, it was came to fore that many of these Aadhaar cards belong to minor workers, or the elders having an age above 60 years, and many Aadhaar cards are not readable. According to the facts, the district tender committee should have rejected the technical bid of the concerned contractors, which was not done but the concerned officials/employees of the Food and Civil Supplies department and respective procurement agencies, in connivance with each other, have committed this fraud in the labour cartage and transport tenders. On the basis of this probe, this case has been registered against the above-mentioned accused.
He further informed that five accused in this case, namely Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Menu Malhotra, Telu Ram, Yashpal and Ajaypal have been arrested so far, and the remaining absconding accused would be arrested soon. Mentionably, DFSC Rakesh Bhaskar had already passed away and RK Singla, suspended deputy director of the said department has been declared proclaimed offender by the Ludhiana court, he added.