Multi-crore hoardings, IEC material purchase scam
No departmental action taken against erring officials
JAMMU, June 7: In a testimony of sluggish approach towards the major scams, neither Jammu and Kashmir Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has completed investigation into the multi-crore flex boards, hoardings and Information Education and Communication (IEC) material purchase scam nor committee of officers of the Rural Development Department has submitted its report/findings to the Government. Due to this, all the accused officials have remained unpunished till date and most of them are even enjoying the prime postings.
In this much-publicized scam, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (formerly State Vigilance Organization) had registered FIR No.7/2019 dated January 30, 2019 against two former Directors of the Rural Development Department Jammu, former Assistant Commissioner Development Jammu and District Panchayat Officers (DPOs) of Jammu, Samba and Kathua.
The FIR was based on the outcome of the Joint Surprise Check conducted by the Anti-Corruption Bureau into the allegations that the officers of the Rural Development Department without calling tenders bestowed works related to the installation of flex boards, hoardings and banner under MGNREGA and SBM depicting the progress achieved in different works, to the blue eyed persons in their respective areas.
Earlier, FIR No.8/2018 dated March 27, 2018 was also registered in this scam but against the then Directors of the Rural Development Department and Assistant Commissioners Development (ACDs) of Reasi, Rajouri and Poonch.
“As far as FIR No.8/2018 is concerned, two accused officials have obtained stay from the High Court and the same is yet to be got vacated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau”, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
“However, this is not the scenario vis-à-vis FIR No.9/2019 but still the investigation has yet not been completed although relevant record has already been impounded by the Investigating Officers (IOs) for detailed examination”, they further said while expressing inability to specify time-frame for the completion of investigation and producing of challan in the Anti-Corruption Court.
Even a committee of the officers constituted by the Rural Development Department to ascertain the factual details with regard to allocation and execution of different works related to preparation/installation of flex boards, hoardings and banner under MGNREGA and SBM without following the codal formalities has not completed its task, sources informed.
The committee headed by Chief Vigilance Officer of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj and comprised of FA/CAO of the department and Assistant Commissioner Development Jammu was supposed to submit its report/findings to the Government within a period of one month—-by May 5, 2019.
“Even more than one month after the expiry of time-frame the committee is finding it difficult rather impossible to submit report”, sources said, adding “non-availability of record is being taken as an excuse to delay the completion of task, which otherwise is not a plausible ground”.
“The most shocking aspect is that even after being booked by the State Anti-Corruption Bureau in two FIRs most of the accused officials are holding the important posts in the State administration against the spirit of the judgments of the Supreme Court”, sources further said.
It is pertinent to mention here that officers of the Rural Development Department without calling tenders bestowed works related to the installation of flex hoardings depicting the progress achieved in different works, to the blue eyed persons in their respective areas.
In the process these officers released payment of Rs 90,000 per hoarding against the actual cost of Rs 20,000 thereby caused loss to the State exchequer in sheer abuse of their official position. Moreover, substantial amount was also spent on the works related to paintings on walls through National Cooperative Consumer Federation of India, M/s Jammu Enterprises Channi Himmat and M/s Hashmi Enterprises Narwal Bye-Pass, which otherwise was a wasteful expenditure.
The works related to hoardings and paintings were executed at the rate of Rs 415 per square feet and Rs 24 per square feet against the prevailing market rates of Rs 180 per square feet and Rs 16.70 per square feet as a result of which a loss of Rs 79,26,864 was inflicted on the State exchequer.