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Mohali plot deal: BJP sees ‘scam’, says govt ignored red flags raised by IRS officer

Former state BJP president Tikshan Sud released a letter written by IRS officer Surinder Kaur Warraich to the managing director of the the Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation raising objection on the post-facto approval given by PSIEC on the sale of the property.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | January 8, 2021 10:00:06 am
Demanding a CBI and ED probe into the deal, Sud said that the BJP had investigated the original accusations made regarding the “scam” by former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Bir Devinder Singh and had found many more loopholes.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Thursday made fresh allegations of a ‘scam’ in the sale of a industrial plot at a prime location in Mohali causing losses worth several hundred crores to the exchequer and released documents, which show that a senior Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer had raised red flags over the deal which were ignored. The BJP also claimed the involvement of “some close relatives of the Punjab industries minister” in the deal, an allegation which was termed illogical and unfounded by Sunder Sham Arora.

Former state BJP president Tikshan Sud released a letter written by IRS officer Surinder Kaur Warraich to the managing director of the the Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation raising objection on the post-facto approval given by PSIEC on the sale of the property. Warraich is a member of the board of directors of the PSIEC.

The letter dated November 5, 2020 states that PSIEC had failed to seek the opinion of the Advocate General on the sale and also did not refer the matter to the Department of Finance due to the financial implications.

Referring to the sale of Plot Number A-32, Industrial Focal Point in Mohali’s Phase-VIII, the letter states that the asset was held by M/S JCT Electronics Limited, which went into liquidation following which the property was transferred to Assets Reconstruction Company India Limited (ARCIL).

“The ARCIL sold the property for the highest bid of Rs 90.56 crore. As per the agreement, PSIEC was to receive 50 per cent as unearned income, which was Rs 45.28 crore. This claim was accepted by PSIEC despite the fact that initially the corporation had filed the revised claim of Rs 161 crore with ARCIL,” the letter states.

However, the PSIEC later gave this approval in a board meeting held on October 21, 2020.

The IRS officer has mentioned in her letter that though she was available for the board meeting, she could not attend it because of some technical problem in the video conference system at the board’s end. “Observations on some of the agenda items as per details below were, however, conveyed to managing director through WhatsApp messages during the meeting,” the letter states.

Demanding a CBI and ED probe into the deal, Sud said that the BJP had investigated the original accusations made regarding the “scam” by former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Bir Devinder Singh and had found many more loopholes.

“The plot has been sold at a throwaway price and as per our estimate it has caused a loss of Rs 350 crore to the government. We demand an investigation into the manner in which money has been spent for the procurement of this plot and we suspect the involvement of some close relatives of the industries minister (Sunder Sham Arora) in this deal,” claimed Sud.

The BJP leader, who is a former industries minister himself, alleged that it was shocking how the minister opened offices during the lockdown in April last year to ensure that the sale of the plot went through. “It is not a fair deal. It smells foul. The minister may say that this deal was in public interest but that does not make it so,” he said.

Arora trashes allegations

When contacted by The Indian Express, Industries Minister Sunder Sham Arora said the allegations were baseless, illogical and unfounded. He also dared Sud to undergo a lie detector test to expose his falsehoods and said that the BJP leader’s angst stemmed from the fact that he (Sud) had lost the elections to him on a number of times. Arora said he was answerable to the people of Punjab and “not to these politicians who had been rejected by the people twice”.

A spokesperson of the Department of Industries and Commerce clarified that the “auction of the Plot No. A-32, Phase VIII, SAS Nagar (Mohali) measuring 31 acres, which was allotted to M/s JCT Electronics on 99 years lease hold basis by Punjab Infotech on 14/09/1984 was done by ARCIL (and not by any state agencies) appointed by the official liquidator who was appointed by Punjab and Haryana High Court as M/s JCT Electronics Ltd failed to fulfill its financial obligations to the bankers/ financial institutions the case was referred to Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) and vide order dated 26/08/2016, Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the company to be wound up and official Liquidator was appointed to take over the assets of the Company”.

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