The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has registered a case against V S Chimni,the former CEO of the Viticulture Council of Punjab,for alleged irregular diversion of Rs 4 crore to the Punjab Council for Citrus and Agri-Juicing (CCAJ) to pay off land lease dues to farmers without the necessary approval from the competent authority.
Disclosing this here on Wednesday,Suresh Arora,chief director-cum-DGP (vigilance bureau) said that a FIR in this regard has been filed at the VB police station in Mohali under the Prevention of Corruption Act,1988.
Divulging details of the case,Arora said that the states project approval board had given its nod for the setting of a grape-based winery project in Punjab and had decided that a smaller unit with a total capital cost of Rs 4 crore should be set up to process the grape production. He added that initially,the money was to be invested by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited (PAICL) since the State Viticulture Council had applied for a grant under the National Horticulture Mission Scheme (NHMS). It was decided that if the grant amount received from NHM it would be paid back to the PAIC or otherwise,a new company be registered and shares equivalent to the investment made by the PAIC would be allotted, Arora said.
The VB chief further added that on the basis of this approval,the PAIC released the entire amount of Rs 4 crore in February 2007,as an advance to the Viticulture Council of Punjab (VCOP) for setting up of a grape based winery project at Talwandi Sabo.
In August 2010,however,VCOP transferred the total fund to the state Citrus Council for paying off the land lease overdue to the farmers without obtaining necessary approval from the Project Approval Board (PAB),the competent authority.
Arora said that the state government after examining the irregular diversion of Rs. 4 crore sent the case to Vigilance Bureau for registration of a criminal case against the then CEO (who happens to be same person for both VCOP and CCAJ) and other functionaries involved in this decision for criminal breach of trust and misuse of official position. After finding the veracity of facts on record vigilance has registered this case which was under further investigation.