Punjab govt, I-T dept launch probe in mining contracts
The Income Tax Department has started an inquiry into the mining contracts allegedly bagged by four former employees of Punjab minister Rana Gurjit Singh, even as the state government ordered a judicial probe in the matter on Tuesday.
While opposition parties, including the AAP and the Shiromani Akali Dal, demanded sacking of Gurjit Singh, the state irrigation and power minister, pending inquiry in the case, exuded confidence of coming out clean in the probe.
Questions were beingraised over the allotment of mining contracts to Amit Bahadur at Saidpur Khurd village in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar for Rs 26.51 crore, Kulvinder Paul Singh at Mehadipur in SBS Nagar for Rs 9.21 crore, Gurinder Singh at Rampur Kalan village in Mohali district for Rs 4.11 crore and Balraj Singh at Bairsal village for Rs 10.58 crore.
"An inquiry into the mining contract awarded to four persons whose names have appeared in newspaper reports, has been initiated but it is at preliminary stage now," an income tax official said.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also ordered setting up of a judicial commission to probe the allegations of impropriety against the state irrigation and power minister in the multi-crore sand mining auctions held recently by the state government, an official spokesman said.
The terms of reference for the inquiry commission, formed under the Commission of Inquiry Act, would be notified soon, a statement said.
Rana has offered to resign in order to ensure a free and fair investigation into the matter, however the chief minister asked him to continue till the outcome of the judicial probe, a decision decried by opposition parties, it said.
The Chief Minister announced his decision to set up the commission after taking suo motu cognisance of media reports accusing the minister of acquiring certain mines in the names of his company's staff, the statement said.
Rana has denied any links of his company, Rana Sugars Limited, with the auctions and has said his company has no stake, direct or indirect, in the sand mining business.
In a statement issued here, Gurjit Singh welcomed the probe and said he has full faith in the judicial process.
Meanwhile, the opposition AAP held a dharna outside the Punjab Assembly complex on Tuesday demanding immediate sacking of Gurjit Singh.
The AAP legislators held a meeting in the Vidhan Sabha complex and then they tried to march towards the residence of the Chief Minister to stage a dharna there.
However, the police stopped them near the barricades set up just outside the Vidhan Sabha complex and were prevented from marching forward.