HC directs Vigilance to complete probe in PHE scam

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Nov 27: The High Court today directed the Vigilance Organization Kashmir (VOK) to ensure completion of investigation in Public Health Engineering multi-crore scam and report the court so that disciplinary action will follow against the erring officials.
Hearing PIL with regard to much publicized multi-crore scam in PHE division Handwara in which various employees were found to be involved, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjeev Kumar directed the Vigilance Organization Kashmir, who is investigating the case, to complete the investigation in the matter expeditiously and report the court.
The direction followed after the counsel appearing in the PIL informed the Court neither details and particulars of those erring officials, who are involved in the embezzlement have been provided to the court nor any disciplinary action has been taken against them.
To these submissions made by the petitioner-counsel, the counsel appearing on behalf of the PHE department submitted before the court that whole record pertaining to the case has been seized and taken over by the investigating agency (VOK). As such, the department is not at this time in a position to apprise the court about the disciplinary proceedings against the erring officials.
Court has been informed that various employees from the rank of Junior Engineer to the rank of Executive Engineer are involved in the scam.
The Vigilance Organization Kashmir through Superintendent of Police, in its report has submitted that prima facie the officials in PHE division Handwara have committed various irregularities and bunglings worth crores of rupees have taken place but the attention of court has been drawn to the report of VOK wherein names of the erring officials have not been spelled out as the investigation is under process.
Public Health Engineering Department is also supposed to apprise the Court about the process and details of disciplinary action taken against the erring officials of the department, who were involved into scam.
On the aspect of providing safe drinking water to the general masses, Court said the report filed by the Pollution Control Board revealed ‘sorry state of affairs’ as the report mentioned the details of lavatories and toilets on the banks of river Jhelum which, the court said, cannot be permitted to function as the extracts and urination flows directly into the water body resulting into causing of many diseases.
Court in this connection directed the concerned State functionaries to ensure these toilets and lavatories pointed out by the PCB shall be forthwith dismantled and ensure these not to be permitted to operate in any manner.
State Government has been directed to make fresh action plan for making fresh toilets at distance from the water bodies as provided in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan within a period of eight weeks.
In this regard Secretary H&UDD has been held responsible to check out the reports from the local Municipal Councils and make a comprehensive report and submit the court on next date.
These informations are the result of suggestion submitted by petitioner counsel including that team of officers, from Department of PHE, Health, Pollution Control Board, Fisheries and concerned district administration be formulated to indicate the number and location of all the latrines existence on either of banks all rivers, nallas, streams and tributaries, which are source of drinking water for consumption of the inhabitants of State.
FIR in the scam has been registered in Police Station Handwara after the scam surfaced in PHE department of Handwara Division way back in the year 2014 and immediately a PIL was filed before the court seeking probe into the scam and brought under book the erring officials.
The multi-crore embezzlement of public exchequer was unearthed in PHE department Handwara Division way back in the year 2014 and immediately a PIL was filed by a local scribe Javed Ahmad Zargar before the court seeking probe into the scam and bringing of erring officials to book.
The drinking water scheme in Handwara division was carried under National Rural Drinking Water Program (NRDWP) but the amount which was to be incurred on the scheme has been embezzled by the officials of PHE department due to which the project has not been completed and today extending the scope of the PIL, the court directed for appraisal of other water schemes in the Valley from the CE.
It may be mentioned here that approximately Rs 45 crores has been swindled and the said money was meant for the scheme launched under NRDWP to provide the drinking water to the people of district Handwara and its adjoining hilly areas.