Minister for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan on Thursday disclosed a ‘scam’ of Rs 5.84 Crores related to water supply scheme in Public Health Engineering department.
Giving details of the verbal duel between him and the PHE Chief Engineer Muzaffar Ahmad Lankar in a review meeting here, Choudhary while addressing a press conference said that he had pursued a water supply scheme for Ramhal area of Kupwara district and got it approved from the government of India some three years ago. “This scheme was meant for 35 villages of Ramhal block. But not a single village out of 35 covered under the scheme is benefited. This entire village is suffering from acute scarcity of drinking water,” Choudhry said.
The National Conference senior leader and the minister denied that he abused or physically assaulted the Chief Engineer PHE who resigned after levelling the allegations against the minister.
Choudhary said after getting the water supply scheme for Ramhal approved from the government of India, he came to know that there was an embezzlement of Rs 50 Lacs which he brought into the notice of PHE minister. “I wrote the minister PHE a DO letter vide number PS/HM/CAPD/TPT/174 dated June 26, 2014 in which I informed the minister about the embezzlement and sought a full-fledged inquiry,” Choudhry revealed.
He said that even the PHE minister had asked the Chief Engineer to get the matter inquired and file the findings within a fortnight. “For the last over a year I am waiting for the report. No inquiry has been initiated and instead the Chief Engineer was today shielding his subordinate officers. I told him that I am a politician who is accountable to his people and what should I reply to my people who crave for drinking water,” Choudhry said.
The NC minister also informed that he has verified form the ground including the executive engineer concerned who has informed him that there is no money available for this scheme. “The executive engineer says that all the money sanctioned for the scheme has been utilized. But this money has been spent only on papers and not on the ground which is still craving for drinking water. Last year on July 28, 2013 I brought the embezzlement into the notice of the minister,” Choudhary added.
When asked about the total embezzlement in the scheme, Choudhary said: “I don’t know where the money of this scheme has gone.”The NC minister also informed: “When I asked the Mr Lankar to explain about the failure of the Ramhal scheme, he lost his cool and threw papers around and walked out of the meeting and told me that I was questioning his integrity.” He, however, added that the PHE minister had also asked Lanker to explain his position but he failed to do so. “He (Lanker) was only trying to shield PHE officers and was not able to explain with any logical reason,” Choudhry said.
Asked about allegations levelled by Lankar against him, Choudhary said: “The Chief Engineer has no powers to transfer anybody and had it been so, I would have directly asked the minister concerned for the same.” He also denied charges of slapping and abusing the Chief engineer. Choudhary said that minister PHE was in better position to explain why Lanker mobilized his department and staged a protest. (With Inputs from KNS)