Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Trade and Industry wing president NK Sharma on Wednesday exposed the Rs 1,520-crore LED purchase agreement scam and alleged that the Punjab government would have to pay back Rs 1,520 crore to the contractor for an investment of Rs 60 crore.
He alleged that it is perpetrated by the Local Bodies Ministry headed by Brahm Mohindra in conjunction with private players to install 74,944 LED lights at severely inflated prices in municipalities across the state.
While speaking to The Daily Guardian, Sharma asserted that the scam was initiated by then Local Bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and completed by his successor Mohindra. “It was the first time in the history of the state that the government had agreed to pay private players Rs 1,520 crore over 10 years for an investment of Rs 60 crore,” he claimed.
Sharma, who has also complained to the State Vigilance department and demanded a thorough probe into the kickbacks received by top Congress functionaries including successive Local Bodies ministers, said: “There is very less likelihood of getting justice from this corrupt government.”
Explaining the scam by releasing documents he had procured under the RTI, Sharma revealed details of the contract given in the case of the Patiala cluster which is one of the 10 clusters for which contracts were awarded to change all prevailing lights into LED lights.
He said that even though it was the responsibility of the municipal bodies to purchase the lights, the government took the charge by claiming it was negotiating the price for the purchase of lights for the state. He said shockingly, instead of purchasing high-quality lights at reasonable rates, the same had been purchased at highly inflated rates which had put a further burden on the municipal corporations and councils in the state.
Sharma said that he had got quotations from Surya Roshini Limited which had put the price of lights as per the government order at only Rs 4.39 crore. He said that if other costs, including that of switches and fittings and annual maintenance at even excess rates were taken into account, the total investment after reducing the cost of the old light system came to only Rs 6 crore. He said if this was multiplied by 10 taking into consideration the ten clusters in which these lights were to be installed, the investment cost came to Rs 60 crore.
The Trade and Industry wing president added that it was shocking that the government had committed to pay Rs 1,520 crore over ten years for a total investment of only Rs 60 crore. “This amounts to daylight plunder of the state exchequer,” he said, adding the contract was approved by Sidhu and later signed by Mohindra.
Asking why Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was not taking action in the case, Sharma said, “The Chief Minister must explain if he has become a party in the case and is also partaking of the spoils of this scam.” Adding further, he also highlighted other corrupt activities being conducted in the Dera Bassi constituency including large-scale illegal sand mining in Zirakpur as well as cutting of Khair trees illegally in 90 acres of land in Lalru. He also highlighted how corrupt officers had been posted illegally in Zirkapur to fritter away the Rs 250 crore funds accumulated with the municipal council.