The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Friday demanded the resignation of state Food and Supplies Minister, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, for alleged irregularities in change of land use for a housing project in Ludhiana even as the Local Government Minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu, claimed that “Mantri hoye ya santri, sab nu thoku jedaa chor aa (I will fix everyone who is a thief, whether he be a minister or a sepoy)”.
Jagraon MLA Sarabjeet Kaur Manuke raised the issue during the Zero Hour in the House claiming that a probe ordered by Sidhu’s department had found the evidence of collusion of a cabinet colleague of his in the Ludhiana scam. Without naming the minister in the House, Manuke said that she did not have an iota of doubt over Sidhu’s honesty but she wanted to know what action will be taken against his cabinet colleague.
Later, speaking to media persons outside the House, Manuke and Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema demanded a probe into the “multi-crore Grand Manor Homes scam” in Ludhiana under the supervision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Both leaders named the minister and demanded stringent action against all involved in the scam.
Manuke said that Sidhu had ordered an inquiry into the case, in which, besides three IAS officers, names of Ashu and another Congress leader figured prominently. She demanded that Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should immediately ask Ashu to resign and initiate action against others involved in the case.
Meanwhile, the local bodies department, in a statement later in the day, gave details of the action taken in the case. As per the statement, Sidhu had ordered stringent action against against the “officers guilty of willful disobedience of the orders issued by him on July 7, 2018 regarding keeping the matter of according approval to Plan 98-C of the Municipal Corporation, Ludhiana in abeyance and sending the CLU case further ahead by forging the documents”.
The minister has directed the principal secretary of the department to take prompt action in the matter, the statement read. It quoted Sidhu as saying that as per the report of a probe ordered by him, the registry of that land, whose CLU and plan was approved, was forged and Khasra numbers were changed.
”The CLU was applied for on January 17, 2018 in which the documents were forged. The registry was done two days later on the January 19, 2018 whereas it is mandatory that at the time of applying for the CLU the registry is to be attached,” the statement said.
Sidhu was further quoted in the statement as saying that due to the difference in the khasra number of registry done two days after applying for CLU, the front page of the documents attached at the time of applying for CLU was changed through fraudulent methods whereas the details such as Khasra numbers etc remained same in the other documents.
The minister further elaborated that the probe conducted by the then ADC (General) Iqbal Singh Sandhu confirmed that the date of registration is January 19, 2018. “This means that the applicant was not the owner of the land at the time of applying,” he said.
The minister further added that the probe conducted by the DSP Municipal Corporation brought to the fore that the officers of the Ludhiana municipal corporation and the headquarters of the local government department okayed the CLU case and put the same up for approval before him without going in for the verification of any of the facts and without redressing the complaints received in this regard.
The minister also said that he had ordered a probe besides keeping the approval to the plan in abeyance. He also said that despite his orders, the construction work continued.
If there is proof, write to CM seeking action, says Ashu
Food and Supplies Minister, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, defended himself against the allegations levelled against him. “I have nothing to do with this building. If there is a proof against me then Sidhu saab should write to the Chief Minister suggesting action against me. I will face the CM. But if my involvement is not proved then he should probe how it appeared in the inquiry report,” he said.