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4 Engineers, ALC arrested by SVO in Udhampur, Poonch scams

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Feb 28: Continuing its drive against corrupt officers, the State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) today arrested five Government officials including four Engineers in the senior rank and an Assistant Labour Commissioner for their involvement in corrupt practices.
Four Engineers, who were arrested today by the Vigilance Organization, were booked only yesterday for causing loss to the State exchequer by raising the cost of works than advertized amount.
The Engineers, arrested today, have been identified as DD Gorkha, then Superintending Engineer, PWD (R&B) Circle Udhampur, PS Sehgal, then SE, PWD (R&B), Reasi-Udhampur Circle, AK Gandotra, then Executive Engineer, PWD (R&B) Division Udhampur and VK Sharma, then Executive Engineer PWD (R&B) Division Udhampur.
Two private beneficiaries-Ashok Kumar and Harminder Singh, both contractors, had also been booked in the case by the Vigilance Organisation yesterday but they haven’t been arrested.
Official sources said the Engineers have been arrested for questioning in the case as their involvement in the irregularities has been established prima facie. They were being questioned by the special teams of Vigilance Organization to ascertain details about the scam, they added.
The Engineers have been charged with committing glaring irregularities and gross violations of rules in allotment and execution of work of bridge during the year 2012-13. The Vigilance investigations have revealed that construction of abutments for 41.50 meters clean span motorable bridge on Thalora-Sartari road at Dugee Khad including construction of approaches was allotted at Rs 92.75 lakh as against the advertized cost of Rs 81.70 lakh in which only two contractors-Ashok Kumar and Harminder Singh, booked in the case, participated.
The then SE PWD Circle Udhampur instead of re-tendering work to ensure fair competition allotted the work to their blue eyed contractor, Ashok Kumar. The investigations revealed that the SE PWD Udhampur and Executive Engineer, PWD Udhampur subsequently allotted remaining work of Rs 177.28 lakh without inviting tenders.
However, sources said, to cover their illegal act, they accorded three post factor approvals for Rs 60 lakh, Rs 42.08 lakh and Rs 60 lakh and one additional work order of Rs 15.2 lakh against the said work to the same contractor. The verifications showed that accused officers/officials grossly exceeded their monetary limit.
Further, work on Khu Nallah on Udhampur-Ramnagar road was also allotted at higher cost of Rs 29.01 lakh as against an advertised cost of Rs 22 lakh. In this work two, the same blue-eyed contractors participated and it was allotted to Harminder Singh by the Executive Engineer PWD Divisional Udhampur.
In another case, the Vigilance Organisation today arrested Aziz Ahmad Bhatti, Assistant Labour Commissioner, Kishtwar, then posted as ALC Poonch for demanding and accepting bribe from the poor labourers of Poonch during the year 2011-12 in lieu of their registration on the Labour Department.
Investigations conducted by the Vigilance Organization revealed that there were financial irregularities and blatant discrepancies in grant of financial assistance for scholarship of wards, marriage assistance, medical assistance, maternity, funeral assistance, death benefits etc given to the labourers under the scheme J&K Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board in Poonch district during the tenure of Bhatti.
It also surfaced during the investigations that Bhatti by abuse of his official position and in violation of the norms/guidelines under the scheme, deprived the poor labourers of the financial assistance under the scheme whereas undeserving cases were sanctioned grants against some consideration and ulterior motives in connivance and criminal conspiracy with others.
In order to carry out detailed questioning regarding his involvement in the instant case, Aziz Ahmed Bhatti presently Assistant Labour Commissioner Kishtwar, then ALC Poonch was taken into custody by the sleuths of Vigilance Organization at Kishtwar and lodged in Kishtwar police station.
However, after getting transit remand from the court, he will be brought to Jammu for sustained questioning, sources said.

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