Punjab Congress leader Sukhjinder Raj Singh (Lalli) Majithia Saturday alleged a Rs 915-crore scam in allocation of power tenders related to eight of the nine sugar mills in Punjab, alleging complicity by former Akali Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. Lalli Majithia, who had contested elections against Bikram Majithia in the February 2017 Assembly elections and lost, alleged gross irregularities and nepotism in allocation of tenders for upgradation, modernisation and installation of co-generation of power in the eight sugar mills, resulting in huge losses to the state exchequer and rendering the Co-operative Sugar mills (CSMs) across the state incapable of being self- sustaining. He accused Majithia of favouritism in order take over all cooperative sugar mills in the garb of value addition through co-generation.
“The total estimated loss from 2010-11, the year in which these projects should have been operational, till now is Rs 915 crores. The loss will continue to increase till the time co-generation plants are put up and made functional,” said Lalli. He demanded setting up of a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the alleged scam and bring the guilty to book. Meanwhile, Bikram Majithia was not available for comments. Financial Commissioner (Cooperation) VK Singh was also not available for comments on the allegations levelled by Lalli Majithia. Giving background to his allegations, Lalli Majithia said tenders were floated by SUGARFED, Punjab, on behalf of 8 CSMs of Punjab in 2008.
Lalli alleged that M/s Saraya Industries Limited (SIL), a family unit of Bikram Singh Majithia, misused his official clout and obtained the contracts for four mills directly and four in the name of another company A2Z. “Co-operative sugar mills had been facing financial constraints, and to get the mills out of this financial mess, it was decided to go in for co-generation to increase revenue,” he said. SIL bagged orders for Nawanshahr, Ajnala, Batala and Gurdaspur mills and A2Z for Morinda, Budhewal, Nakodar and Fazilka mills. Lalli claimed that tenders received from SIL were conditional and not as per terms of notice inviting tenders (NIT) and hence, should have been rejected there and then.
The earnest money deposited by these eight mills amounting to Rs 3 Crore should also have been forfeited, he added. “The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was executed with SIL on January 12, 2009, as per which the SIL and A2Z had to deposit a security amount of Rs 2 Crore with each of the eight CSMs by 11 April, 2009, but SIL and A2Z did not deposit a single penny. Hence, MOU was liable to be cancelled at this stage itself,” said Lalli. In addition, M/s SIL and A2Z were also required to contribute towards modernization and ungradation of sugar mill machinery so as to make its functioning more efficient and fit for synchronization with co-generation plant, which also they defaulted on, he said.
The Congress leader further alleged that in order to safeguard and get the Earnest Money Deposited (EMD) refunded, which SIL had deposited for those three mills where they could not start work of co-generation, SIL filed arbitration cases with Registrar Cooperative Societies Punjab for cancellation of MOU and refund of EMD. According to Lalli, had these plants started operations as per the terms and conditions of the agreement, CSMs would have been able to earn a revenue of Rs 668 crores, which would have enabled the sugar mills to make timely payments to sugarcane farmers from their own resources, without having to beg from the state government.