DW Bureau / Chandigarh
Contractor Gurinder Singh who was recently booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) in connection with the multi-crore Irrigation scam is absconding since August 17. Sources said the probe agency had been unable to trace his whereabouts since an FIR was registered against the contractor and half a dozen senior irrigation department officials.
ÔÇ£All main associates of Gurinder Singh, including his drivers and accountant have been missing since August 17 and their mobile numbers are switched off. We are conducting searches at various places to apprehend the accused,ÔÇØ a top Vigilance officer told Daily World on Wednesday. It may be mentioned that the contractorÔÇÖs pre-arrest bail plea was rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court earlier this month.
Investigations into the scam have so far revealed that during the past 10 years of the SAD-BJP Government, Gurinder Singh amassed properties worth more than Rs 100 crore, which is much more than the usual range of profit for civil works executed under the irrigation department. (See box)
ÔÇ£During our searches at his locations in the past over one week, we have recovered several incriminating documents that were supposed to be in the custody of the Irrigation department. We have also recovered from his premises several letters written by the Vigilance seeking record of works from the irrigation department,ÔÇØ he added. The seized government records from his premises point out at a deep-rooted nexus between the irrigation department officials and the contractors who allegedly indulged in large-scale irregularities in the allotment of projects worth hundreds of crores by colluding with high-level officers. ÔÇ£We also have evidence to suggest that the department officials have been involved in imposing tailor-made conditions in tenders and clubbing of works in gross violation of the department guidelines,ÔÇØ the VB officer added.
On August 18, the Vigilance had registered the case after finding that the officers, including engineers, in the Irrigation department allegedly connived with a few selected contractors and allotted major works to them in flagrant violation of rules and on much higher rates. Sometimes, sources said, the tenders were allotted to big contractors without even a sanctioned estimate, any mention of work location or the quantum of the work that was to be executed. The works were clubbed to keep out small contractors and allot all major works to a favoured few, they added.
The probe agency also found that once a small-time contractor, Gurinder SinghÔÇÖs annual turn-over increased almost 60 times, from Rs 4.5 crore to nearly Rs 300 crore in the past 10 years of the previous Akali-BJP rule. During this period, he alone executed irrigation projects worth Rs 1,000 crore and always got the lionsÔÇÖ share during the allotment of works in the Drainage and Kandi wings of the Irrigation Department. A number of work experience certificates used by Gurinder Singh are based on false facts, said sources adding that the VB was now trying to find out how such false certificates were obtained by him and where all these certificates were used by him to get the projects.
The VB which recovered a CCTV DVR from one of Gurinder SinghÔÇÖs houses in Sector 19-A, Chandigarh has been found to be completely blank. This shows that old DVR disks have been hidden somewhere by Gurinder Singh to conceal the information regarding the visits of irrigation department officials to his house and also the financial dealings with them, the sources added.
Mindboggling transactions, assets baffle sleuths
Huge trail of assets and mindboggling transactions in cash by Gurinder Singh in the past 10 years have baffled the investigators. ┬áHe has absconded after withdrawing Rs 100 crore from his bank accounts. The State Vigilance has so far found that the accused contractor allegdly amassed a large number of properties during this period. These include: H. N. 1635, Sector 18, Chandigarh, H. N. 184, Sector 19, Chandigarh; H. N. 632, Phase-2, Mohali; Plot Number 1111, Sector 63, Mohali; Plot No 1583, Sector 69, Mohali; Plot Number 666, Sector 78, Mohali; Plot No 1605, Sector 80, Mohali; H. N. 3649, Sector 69, Mohali; Plot No L.P. 26, Sector 76-80, Mohali; Plot No 4116, Sector 68, Mohali; Plot No 163, Sector 82 Mohali; SCO 32, Sector 19, Chandigarh; Plot No 88-89, GMADA, Mohali; Plot Numbers 3309, 4072, 4073, 5059 in Aerocity, Mohali; E-13, Industrial Area, Phase-7, Mohali; E-318, Industrial Area, Phase-8 A, Mohali; Hotel Site in Sector 66-A, Mohali; B-39, Sector 57-A, Mohali; C-3, Sector 57, Mohali; Plot Number 103, Village Balukpur, Ludhiana; Plot No K-95 Jamuna Authority, Noida; Plot No H 280, Jamuna Authority, Noida; Shop No 42, Omaxe Mall, Patiala and share in Brew Estate Microbrewery at ┬áChandigarh.