IN CONNECTION with squandering public money on lavish items for doing up his official residence, the governing body of Chandigarh Housing Board on Friday decided to give two options to the then CEO of the board, S B Deepak Kumar: either he takes back the items that he had returned to the board and pay the entire amount to the board, or the board will auction the items to recover the cost and he will be liable to pay the difference in total amount spent by him on purchasing those items.
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Last year, as CEO, Kumar had spent Rs 23.45 lakh from the board’s funds for purchasing furniture and other items that he kept at his official residence in Sector 16. However, after CHB objected to it, he returned the items to the board. Kumar, a 2005-batch UT cadre IAS officer, is currently posted as secretary (rural development & panchayats, animal husbandry & fisheries, technical education, statistics, printing and stationary, and sports).
“If Kumar opts for the first option, the entire amount of Rs 23.45 lakh would be recoverable from him. If he opts for the second one, the amount fetched from the auction shall be deducted from the overall amount recoverable and he shall have to pay the balance amount to the board,” read the minutes of the board’s meeting.
Tarsem Garg, one of the board members who attended the meeting, confirmed the development. The board also decided that compliance with the decision should be done within 15 days from Friday. The top officers of the Chandigarh Administration were apprised of the board’s decision by the members after the meeting.
In all, there are 25 items in question, including an LED (49 inch) costing Rs 1.45 lakh; a king-size double bed worth Rs 92,000; a mattress worth Rs 35,000; a microwave worth Rs 16,500; Masai arm chairs table set, Williams side tables, Lyon end tables, and Balinae patio swing worth Rs 72,000; a mobile handset worth Rs 53,000; a sofa set worth Rs 63,000; and curtains and cushions worth Rs 1.57 lakh. Various other items included geysers, water purifiers and air conditioners.
An official inquiry into the alleged misuse of the board’s funds was conducted by the then secretary of CHB. The inquiry found that Kumar misused his official position and spent the board’s money on the renovation and furnishing of his official residence by issuing orders and approvals himself.
Despite repeated attempts, Kumar was not available for comment.