Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu today said that the audit conducted by department has detected discrepancies worth Rs 500 crore in civic bodies at Amritsar and Jalandhar during the last ten years.Interacting with the media persons here at the local Circuit House after surprise visit at the Jalandhar Improvement Trust, the Minister said that that while irregularities worth Rs 225 crore has been detected in audit of Amritsar, discrepancies more than Rs 250 crores have been unearthed in Jalandhar, which include 120 files of the Locally Displaced Persons (LDPs). He said that during the last ten years of rule of the SAD-BJP alliance these civic bodies including the Municipal Corporations and Improvement Trusts were transformed into den of corruption where irregularities and scams were the order of the day.Citing the examples, the Minister said that the civic bodies were still following 500 years old single entry system, which was abandoned by the western countries around 450 years ago, as it was a way to facilitate theft. Likewise, he said that in complete violation of the norms no daily, weekly and monthly cash books were maintained by the civic bodies. Mr. Sidhu said that prime properties in these cities were either allowed to be encroached or were given on lease to benefit few people at throwaway prices without any proper agreement.
The Minister said that the biggest fraud was misinterpretation of demarcation made by the state government to benefit affluent people. He said that not only incorrect rates were applied but even allotment of plot more than area to made to few people. Making a startling revelation, Mr. Sidhu also said that even the officers also signed blank stamp papers and submitted them in banks to benefit some people.The Minister said that this was just tip of iceberg as Rs 500 crore discrepancies pertain to only 40-50% record which was available for the audit whereas the remaining record has not been provided to the audit company, which was undertaking this work. He warned the officers/ officials who were not submitting the record that stern action would be taken against them if they do not submit the record in coming days. Mr. Sidhu categorically said that no one guilty for these discrepancies would be spared at any cost and strict action would be taken against them.Listing the measures to be initiated by the state government in checking such discrepancies in future, the Minister said that e-governance was the ultimate solution for this. He said that complete satellite mapping of all the buildings in state was on cards adding that all government properties would be computerized very soon.
Mr. Sidhu said that the state government has already started online approval for maps and buildings plans adding that 450 architects from across the state have been registered for this purpose.The Minister further said that the department intends to ensure that 60 services were made online by the coming March so that a transparent and efficient mechanism could be evolved. Likewise, he said that audit would be held of all the civic bodies of the state in the coming days. Mr. Sidhu said that due focus was being laid on setting the house in order so that the tax payers money was aptly utilized for development of the cities and towns.On the occasion, MLAs Mr. Pargat Singh, Mr. Rajinder Beri and Mr. Bawa Henry, Mayor Jalandhar Mr. Jagdish Raj Raja, Director Local Government Mr. Karnesh Sharma, Commissioner Municipal Corporation Mr. Diperva Lakra, Assistant Commissioner Ms. Aashika Jain and others were also present.