Multi-crore PSIEC plot scam earns Capt govt new sobriquet of mother of all scams: Harpal Cheema

Chandigarh, September 10 : Senior leader of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Punjab Assembly, Harpal Singh Cheema, has demanded a time-bound CBI inquiry into the multi-crore Punjab Small Scale Industrial and Export Corporation (PSIEC) allotment scam under the watch of a sitting High Court judge, saying the Captain Amarinder Singh government had been going the whole hog to hush up the matter. 

At a meet-the-press program held at party headquarters in Chandigarh on Tuesday, Harpal Singh Cheema released a report of the probe conducted by the Vigilance Bureau. He added that the report was handed over to the Vigilance Bureau on April 4, 2018, by the Captain Amarinder Singh Government and that the said inquiry was completed by the central agency in January this year.   

Citing inquiry report, Cheema said that names of the who’s who of the PSIEC among dozens others had surfaced in the probe. Interestingly, all those named in the inquiry report were either the kin or acquaintances of the corporation top brass, saying that they indulged in an open ‘loot’ and appeasing their wives, siblings, kin and other acquaintances at a cost worth multi-crore depriving a large number of entrepreneurs and industrialists in the state availing themselves of the opportunity to own a plot to set up their industries etc.

Cheema further added that if the CBI or Enforcement Directorate (ED) went for a random check of the bank transactions made by them through bank drafts/cheques or other modes of payment, more skeleton would roll out from the cupboard unearthing bigger scam worth multi-crore and the modus-operandi employed to fleece the public money under the nose of the government machinery.

Cheema said that the multi-crore plot allotment scam, which had started shaping up way back in the year 2002, but the allotment of plots made by these officers to their kin/acquaintances between 2004 till date at Mohali, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Dera Bassi, Chanalo (Kurali) and a host of other cities and industrial hubs etc had raised questions of propriety.

The LoP has demanded that Punjab and Haryana High Court should immediately order seizure of the PSIEC record relating to the allotment of plots made during the past 20 years as, besides the corporation top brass, political big wigs, including top-ranking bureaucrats, members of the Badal family and those of Captain Amarinder Singh were allegedly behind this multi-crore scam, saying that the Captain Government had went the whole hog to hush-up the matter by setting a 3-member committee of IAS officers, including Rahul Bhandari, Rajat Aagarwal and Neelma, saying it was apparently a well thought-out ploy to scuttle the probe report submitted to the government by the vigilance bureau. Citing CBI probe, Cheema said that, during the investigations, had pointed its accusing finger on Rahul Bhandari, who had protected the tainted officers of the PSIEC during his stint as its managing director.

Accusing the government in the saddle, the AAP leader questioned as to why were not the PSIEC officers, including SP Singh, chief general manager (Estate), Jaswinder Singh Randhawa (JS Randhawa), general manager (Planning), Aamarjeet Singh Kahlon, estate officer (who recently retired), Vijay Gupta, senior assistant, Darshan Singh, consultant and Savtej Singh, SDO not put under suspension or sent on compulsory leave and were allowed to continue influence investigations, saying that even during the specially constituted 3-member committee of investigations, all limits of corruption were crossed without the scantest fear of the law. Cheema demanded that they be immediate removed from their posts to clear the roadblocks for a fair probe.

Accusing the government of the entire botch-up, Cheema said what could be more disgusting than appointing SP Singh as nodal officer of the probe against him, which, the AAP leader said was a tantamount to the mockery of the law.

Other prominent names which had figured during the course of inquiry included Gurpreet Kaur, wife of Jaswinder Singh Randhawa, Binay Pratap Singh, son of Bhupinder Singh (Son of maternal aunt of Jaswinder Singh Randhawa), Parminder Kaur, wife of Shamsher Singh (Family member of Jaswinder Singh Randhawa from his village), Kewal Singh, son of Joginder Singh (A friend of brother-in-law of Jaswinder Singh Randhawa), Sukhraj Singh, son of Sukhchain Singh (brother-in-law of Jaswinder Singh Randhawa), Damanpreet Singh, son of Avtar Singh, Avtar Singh,, Sukhpal Singh Sandhu, Ramanpreet Singh, Jasmeet Singh, son of Amarjit  Singh, Gurmel Singh, son of late Gian Singh, Gagandeep Kaur, daughter of Gurmel Singh (All private persons)

Harpal Cheema further informed that the polt allotment mafia used to follow the similar modus operandi while making allotment of plots. Elaborating more on the scam, Cheema said that with the publication of the requisite advertisement regarding the allotment of plots, the interested entrepreneurs/ industrialists would apply for an industrial plot filling in a prescribed application performa. The applicants were required to tick in the prescribed form one of the options among proprietor, partnership, or private limited as per their qualification/category. The rogue mafia would give the leeway to its own members to leave the specific space blank, which, Cheema said, was a complete departure from the established norms of allotment. The 10 per cent earnest money of the total price of the plot would be deposited through bank draft thus ensuring allotment right to the person by putting the same on hold modus operandi.

He said that, as per the rules in place, 30 per cent amount was required to be deposited by bank draft (pay order) with the PSIEC since the allottee is given the ownership right only after a total of 40 per cent payment had been made. Expressing his dismay over the way how the active mafia enjoying political patronage was operating, Cheema said they kept the allotment letters on hold for more than 10 years with a deposit of the earnest money only, citing examples of plot number E-261, E 260, and E 260A, among others located in phase 8-B in the industrial area, which, Cheema said, pointed towards the fraudulent dealings. The plea behind holding allotment letters for longer spans of time to enable the allottees/ mafia lords till they managed to sell the same at a whopping market rate pointed towards a bigger scam.

Cheema further added that the committee constituted had given a ‘clean chit’ to the accused officers, besides reducing the Vigilance Bureau’s 77-page inquiry report to just 18 pages, which was reflective of a larger scam. He questioned as to how could the committee offer ‘clean chit’ to the accused government officials and others without the direct or indirect insistence and intervention of the government in the saddle, he said.

Lashing out at the state industries minister, Cheema said if he claimed himself be upright and honest why he couldn’t expose those behind entire scam personally. If he was unable to do so, he should immediately resign from the post.

Others who were conspicuous by their presence included Bibi Sarbjit Kaur Manuke, Dy Leader of Opposition, core committe member Dalbir Singh Dhillon, Baljinder Singh Chaunda, core committee state media head Manjit Singh Sidhu.

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