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Tuesday, Dec 06, 2022

Streetlight Grant Embezzlement: Vigilance books Cong leader and ex-Captain aide Sandeep Sandhu

Vigilance has claimed that the payment was released to a private firm even as lights were never installed in the villages. Also, the lights were purchased at inflated rates.

Congress leader Capt Sandeep Sandhu. (Express Photo)

The Punjab vigilance bureau has booked senior Congress leader Capt Sandeep Sandhu in the case of alleged case misappropriation of Rs 65 lakh government grant which was meant for installation of streetlights in 26 villages of Sidhwan Bet of Ludhiana’s Dakha sub-division.

Vigilance has claimed that the payment was released to a private firm even as lights were never installed in the villages. Also, the lights were purchased at inflated rates.

A senior vigilance officer from Ludhiana range confirmed that Sandhu has been named as an accused. Of six persons booked in the case till now, three, all government officials, have been arrested. They are block development and panchayat officer (BDPO), Sidhwan Bet, Satwinder Singh Kang; block samiti chairman Lakhwinder Singh; and village development officer (VDO) Teja Singh. Three others — Sandhu, Gaurav Sharma, proprietor, M/s Amar Electrical Enterprises, Nabha, and one Harpreet Singh (said to be Sandhu’s aide) —are yet to be arrested.

The vigilance has informed a Ludhiana court that an FIR for alleged corruption was registered “against Kang and Gaurav Sharma for connivance in misappropriation of Rs 65 lakh grant in installation of streetlights in 26 villages of Sidhwan Bet. The BDPO had approved the quotation of M/s Amar Electrical Enterprises for installation of streetlights even before passage of a resolution by the Panchayat Samiti and later released a payment of Rs 60 lakh”.

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The vigilance further submitted, “During investigation, Kang, who was arrested on September 27, disclosed that the amount for installation of streetlights in villages was released at the behest of Capt Sandhu. He stated that he was asked by accused Harpreet Singh to meet Sandhu at his rented house (Villa 48, Janpath Villas, Ludhiana), where the latter insisted upon him to immediately release the amount of Rs 65 lakh without waiting for any formality”.

“The BDPO has also identified the said Villa in the presence of official witnesses. As criminal connivance of Captain Sandhu with the other accused has come on record following the disclosure statement of the BDPO, he has been nominated as an accused in this case,” submitted the vigilance in the court.

Vigilance has alleged that the payments of streetlights were made to the firm Nabha based firm without getting the installation work done.

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Vigilance had registered an FIR under the sections 409, 120-B of IPC and Sec 13(1) (a), 13(2) Prevention of Corruption Act at VB police station, economic offences wing, Ludhiana to which sections 465 ,467, 468, 471 of IPC have been added after it came to light that “inflated bills were submitted after forging and fabricating them,” said an officer.

Vigilance said that the accused had allegedly purchased street lights at double the approved rates.
“During investigation it was found that Kang in connivance with Sharma, had deliberately purchased the lights at the rate of Rs 7,288 per piece against the approved rate of Rs 3,325, and caused financial loss to the state exchequer,” said vigilance in a statement earlier.

Sandhu is currently Congress’ halqa incharge of Dakha. He is the former political secretary-cum-officer on special duty (OSD) of former CM Capt Amarinder Singh. He unsuccessfully contested the Assembly polls twice from Dakha on Congress ticket.

First published on: 05-10-2022 at 07:51:34 am
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