Harkesh Singh Sidhu,who was recently transferred from the post of Commissioner,Patiala Municipal Corporation,has expressed reservations over the way development funds given by the state government are being spent. The funds were allotted to improve civic amenities in the city.
In an official report submitted by Sidhu to his senior officers,the former commissioner pointed to the misuse of official funds (amounting to crores) and says that the expenditures were over-estimated by the corporation officials.
In a noting made in the Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) meeting held on January 16,Sidhu,who is a PCS officer,observed: “Works costing up to Rs 6,957.89 lakh have already been granted to various contractors,but the actual expenditure on important works comes out to be Rs 5,637.67 lakh which means more than Rs 13 crore could be saved only if the required work is done.”
On his visit to the city a couple of months ago,Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had announced financial aid for important works in all 50 wards of the city. Sources in the Patiala Municipal Corporation (PMC) said certain councillors,in connivance with some MC officials,managed to get excess budget released for their wards. “In certain wards,there was no need for a new road while in one ward,a private colony received sanction for a new road. In others,patch work could have been enough rather than a new road,” sources told Newsline. A copy of the report tabled in the meeting further states that funds would be misused if not spent properly. “Despite opposition by various councillors that all works announced by the Punjab CM during sangat darshan should be completed,it is feared that funds would be misused,” reads the copy in possession of Newsline.
Patiala Mayor Ajit Pal Singh Kohli said: “It could be the personal view of the commissioner but we are trying to complete whatever the chief minister announced during the Sangat Darshan. A team from Chandigarh is monitoring to detect any financial irregularities.”
Sources further revealed that the PMC has only got Rs 40 crore from the government whereas works amounting to Rs 75 crore have already been issued to contractors.
Sidhu,while refusing to comment on the issue,said he had informed the government and his seniors about the misuse of the.
D S Bains,Principal Secretary Local Government,Punjab,said he would dispatch a special team to review all pending works in Patiala and conduct an inquiry into the alleged irregularities. “We would not allow anyone to misuse government funds and present the report to the chief minister.”