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Posted at: Apr 17, 2018, 1:27 AM; last updated: Apr 17, 2018, 1:27 AM (IST)

Rs 85-cr scam: Staff strike hits working of Panchayat Dept

Parvesh Sharma

Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 16

The working of the Panchayat and Rural Development Department has been affected badly as employees have been on strike since March 27 and demanding a high-level inquiry and action against block development and panchayat officers for the misappropriation of Rs 85 crore.

“We have been without salaries for the last many months as BDPOs at the block level have misappropriated Rs 85 crore released for our salaries. Our state-level authorities on March 1 had issued a letter and directed all BDPOs to submit their income and expense details of the last five years, but majority of the BDPOs are not submitting the required information,” alleged Amrik Singh, district president of the Panchayat Samiti and Zila Parishad Employees Association, while protesting in front of the DC’s office here for action.

On April 12, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau arrested Surinderpal Mittal and his son Vineet Mittal, proprietors of Mittal Traders, Sangrur, for misappropriating funds of the Jheorheri gram panchayat, SAS Nagar district, to the tune of Rs 82 lakh for supplying 2,474 concrete (RCC) benches in connivance with department officials. The VB has registered an FIR against Mittals and Panchayat Department officers concerned.

On Monday, protesters alleged that such scams had taken place in almost all blocks of Punjab under the garb of purchase of stationery, benches, display boards, furniture, streetlights, computers and Photostat machines and repair of vehicles.

“Total 3,200 employees in 147 blocks across the state are on strike and will start a hunger strike also in a day or two. Many big businessmen of the state are involved in such financial scams across the state. We are facing serious financial problems due to the non-release of our salaries,” said Ravinder Singh, state president of the association.

Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa could not be contacted for comment as he was “busy” in a meeting.

District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) Narbhinder Singh Shergil confirmed that BDPOs were not submitting the required information. “Till date five BDPOs have submitted the required information, while the remaining five are yet to do it. We have been issuing letters to them,” said Shergil.


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