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Sand mines auction row : Four months on, Justice Narang commission report gathers dust

3-member panel formed by Punjab govt to study findings yet to submit views; chief secy says needs another week

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
December 6, 2017 12:49:01 am
Rana Gurjit Singh, Punjab Sand mines auction row , Justice Narang commission, Amarinder Singh, punjab news, indian express news Besides, it was asked to inquire as to whether Rana Gurjit had, in any manner, influenced the price bid at which these two mines were awarded, and if the H1 bidders were bidding on behalf of the minister in question, for the said two mines. (Express File Photo)

It has been four months since Justice (retd) J S Narang commission recommended cancellation of two controversial sand mines linked to Irrigation Minister Rana Gurjit Singh’s former employees and close aides. While the commission gave a clean chit to the minister, it recommended action against certain officers of mining department for procedural anomalies.

Justice Narang had completed the probe in 72 days and submitted his report to the state government on August 10. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh referred the report to Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, who further constituted a three-member panel comprising Additional Chief Secretary (Home) N S Kalsi, Secretary (Finance) Anirudh Tewari, Secretary (Industries) R K Verma to look into the commission’s report and submit their opinion on it to the state government within a fortnight. The committee has yet not been able to do so.

“We had to go through the huge report and there were several issues involved. We had to go through those issues. There were several subsequent developments that we had to take into consideration,” Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh told The Indian Express. He added that the panel is expected to take another week to submit their views on the Commission’s report. Justice Narang was not available for comments.

The two controversial mines included one in Saidpur and another Mehadipur, both in Nawanshahr district. Amit Bahadur and Kulwinder Pal, who had remained employees in the firms owned by Rana Gurjit Singh’s family, had bagged contracts for these two mines. Amit Bahadur made a successful bid of Rs 26.51 crore for Saidpur mines, while Kulwinder Pal Singh got the Mehadipur mine for Rs 9.31 crore. Currently, no mining is being done at both the mining sites.

Justice Narang commission had found that both the bidders Amit Bahadur and Kulwinder Pal had blatantly violated the rules governing participation in the auction. In the case, 25 per cent of the total bid amount, which runs into crores of rupees, that they deposited with the government is likely to be forfeited. The commission, set up under Section 11 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, was mandated to inquire into whether the terms and conditions of the bid were adhered to, qua Saidpur Khurd and Mehadipur mines, while awarding the tender of these two mines to Amit Bahadur and Kulwinder Pal, referred to as the H1 bidders by the department.

Besides, it was asked to inquire as to whether Rana Gurjit had, in any manner, influenced the price bid at which these two mines were awarded, and if the H1 bidders were bidding on behalf of the minister in question, for the said two mines.

The commission was also asked to look into whether the minister had received any undue financial benefit or gain from the award of such two mines to the H1 bidders and if there has been any loss to the state revenue by the award of these mines to the H1 bidders at the price in question.

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