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VB launches search to nab accused officers in multi-crore irrigation scam

Pankaj Dhiman | Chandigarh |

With the Punjab and Haryana High Court turning down to the bail pleas filed by a contractor and top officials of Punjab irrigation department in an alleged scam of over Rs 1,000 Crore, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) on Saturday launched search operations in Punjab, Haryana and other locations to nab them.

The VB has obtained the arrest warrants of the six accused from the court and raiding parties have been dispatched to arrest the accused at large.

Punjab VB Additional Inspector General (AIG), Ashish Kapoor, told The Statesman that the High Court was convinced that there was prima facie evidence against all the petitioners and ¬†huge evidence required to be collected by the investigating agency. Further, on the basis of evidence presented by the VB, the court has pronounced that it was possible only if the custodial interrogation was allowed.”As per the investigations, contractor Gurinder Singh, kingpin of the scam, was favoured to the tune of Rs 1,000 Crore in only seven contracts. He had many more projects from the department, which are yet to probed. We have launched a search operation in Punjab and Haryana including other locations of the country on the basis of inputs”, he said.

The AIG further said the High Court was convinced on the facts produced by the VB that the petitioners Gurdev Singh Syan, Bajrang Lal Singla, Gulshan Nagpal and Harvinder Singh in conspiracy with the contractor Gurinder Singh for the numbers of years. The officers adopted a modus operandi by making tailor made conditions in the tenders suitable to Gurinder Singh only with the criminal intention, he added.

On 15 November, the High Court had pointed out that final result of unholy coordination was that almost all the contracts barring a few were bagged by the accused contractor. It was also observed that the state was straight away put to loss to the extent of around 35 to 50 per cent of the contracts by all the acts of the petitioners together.

VB in its report placed before the court had submitted exchange of e-mails, correspondences, call details between irrigation officials about the drafts of contracts to be issued. The high court observed that it was a very serious breach of trust on the part of a government servant who appears to have mortgaged all their loyalties. The multi-crore scam was unearthed in August by VB exposing the misdeeds done during previous Shiromani Akali Dal and Bhartiya Janta Party (SAD-BJP) rule.