I&FC division Sumbal threw ‘Five crore’ rupees down the drain

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Srinagar—Feeling embarrassed on the series of news stories in Print and electronic media on the multi-crore Sand extraction Scandal in Ir­rigation and Flood Control division Sumbal, authorities in the depart­ment have finally swung into action after remaining in slumber for many months ordering a high level enquiry into the allegations of causing more than five crore rupees loss to state exchequer which was due to depart­ment on the pretext of ‘allotted’ shoal extraction in the division.

Concerned over the allegations, the Chief Engineer has also decided to stop all kinds of permissions for extraction in the division until the contractors deposit full amount to the department. There may be a huge revamp of the di­vision with many ‘corrupt’ and tainted officials being shown the door. The series of actions have come after MLA Sonawari accused the Executive Engi­neer and other officers and officials of the division for ‘turning brokers’ and causing huge loss to the state exche­quer besides endangering the life of people by damaging the river banks ow­ing to ‘illegal’ sand extraction.

Following the allegations, District Superintending Engineer, Hydraulic Circle Sopore has ordered an enquiry and constituted a high level committee asking them to undertake an on spot in­spection of the sites and submit a report within three days,

“On 28th of Feb. 2018, a news item re­garding illegal extraction of shoal from river Jehlum (among others) under the administrative control of I&FC division Sumbal, Sonawari broadcasted in fa­mous Radio Programme of Sheharbeen under which Honb’le MLA Sonawari has raised some important issues re­lated the extraction of shoal from river Jehlum by depositing petty amount against a huge quantity worth lacs of ru­pees, therefore causing massive loss to the state exchequer . The Honbl’e Min­ster for PHE/I&FC department of J&K State has also taken a serious note of it.

In order to investigate the matter, a committee of following officers/of­ficials is hereby constituted who will submit factual report within three days to this office so that further course of action is initiated on the one side and concerned authorities apprised on the other.” reads the order of SE vide Number 14706/13 dated 01-03-2018 . The committee would be headed by execu­tive Engineer I&FC division Baramulla whereas Assistant Executive Engineer ISD Pattan , AEE, FC Sub Division So­pore and Junior Engineer I&FC Divi­sion Sopore would be its members.

Sources in the department told KNS that nearly five crore rupees have been left ‘unaccounted’ on account of sand extraction charges and there was no GR issued to these pavements. The documents reveal that the conditions of the allotments made by Chief Engi­neer on accounts of bids were flouted by the division authorities allegedly to make ‘money’. As per the allotments made by Chief Engineer I&FC after floating tenders nearly four lakh cum of shoal was extracted from Jehlum and other Nallahs in Sumbal division during 2015-16 for which bidders had to deposit 310.00 Lakhs . However, the GR is available for only 131.00 lakhs and the rest of the amount stands ‘un­accounted’. Nobody knows whether the contractors were allowed to lift the ma­terial without paying the full amount or the authorities failed to reflect it in GR and other accounts. Pertinently the Chief Engineer has categorically au­thorized the extraction subject to the condition of full payment of charges in advance and in one go. One fails to un­derstand how the works were allowed to execute if the bidders had realy not paid the amount. In the year 2016-17, the allotments were made for one lakh cum for which bidders had to deposit 377.00 lakh to the department before the execution of work. However, ac­cording to sources, only 31.00 lakh ru­pees have been deposited whereas the rest of 447.00 lacs stand missing. In the year 2017-18 twenty thousand cum have been allotted for which the bid­ders had to deposit 32.00 lakhs but the actual deposit in the division is 10.00 lakh, the rest of the 22.00 lakhs is still outstanding.. Sources said that from 2015 up to this date , allotments were made for a total amount of 725.00 lakhs , out of which only 172 .00 Lakh rupees have been deposited in the treasury which forms only 24 percent of the total amount the department was entitled to on account of shoal extraction allotted on tenders . Sources said that five crore fifty three lakh rupees have been alleg­edly ‘misused and swindled’ in the divi­sion . There are also allegations of huge illegal extraction in various areas like Shadipora, Batapora, Shilwat Narian Bagh, Near Shilwat Ziyarat Shareef, Sheikhzoo Hakbara, Nani Nar, Asham Nallah, Downstream Shadipora bridge, and Nalah Inder Khan. Sources said that the river bund opposite Ziyarat Shareef Shilwat was allegedly dam­aged by the illegal extraction under the supervision of the division authorities and now is being erected again on gov­ernment exchequer.

Meanwhile, Senior National Confer­ence leader and MLA Sonawari accused People’s Democratic Party PDP of pa­tronizing the ‘corrupt ‘ officers and said that the river stretch in Sumbal Divi­sion has been badly damaged owing to ‘illegal eructation of shoal’. He said he will soon launch a campaign on the is­sue and may also approach to Governor.

The Chief Engineer of the depart­ment Mohammad Shahnawaz told KNS that all the allotments for shoal extraction issued by him in the divi­sion have been withheld and bidders have been asked to deposit the charges first. He however defended the Execu­tive Engineer and said that a question regarding the same had recently come from State Assembly following which all the GR books and records were brought to his office. He added that all the GRs issued were matched with the treasury receipts and other documents which were found intact and there was no such discrepancy found. The Chief Engineer however, told KNS that it is possible that contractors have not paid the full amount and if anyone has any doubt regarding the officers and offi­cials of the division, he must come up with an application and department would hold an enquiry.

It is however, pertinent to mention that as per the NIT, the Executive En­gineer has to receive 100 % payments before allowing the contractor to ex­ecute the work. In this particular divi­sion only 24 % amount has been shown to have been deposited in the division since 2015 leaving behind more than five and a half crore “untraceable’ .

Meanwhile District Superintending Engineer Hydraulic Division Sopoe G.A Gojri told KNS that since he has recently joined as SE therefore doesn’t not know much about the alleged ‘scam’. But added, that since the allegations were serious in nature, therefore a committee headed by Executive Engineer rank offi­cer has been constituted who would visit the spots and scrutinize the records and submit the report within three days. He however, added that no one ‘if involved’ should be spared and stern disciplinary action would follow if the report indict­ed any on the officer or official.

When asked why allegedly many communications were being sent di­rectly to Chief Engineer by by-passing his office, he said , he is not aware of the facts if any communication was direct­ly sent to Chief Office while by-passing his office, but added if the case was so,

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