Govt directs H&UDD to frame another expert committee to probe alleged loss to exchequer by then Director ULB Kashmir

Srinagar, Feb 27: The Jammu & Kashmir Government directed the Housing & Urban Development Department (H&UDD) to constitute another committee to probe the alleged financial loss caused to the State exchequer by then Director Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir.

As per an office memorandum of the General Administration Department (Vigilance), a report submitted by a committee constituted earlier by the H&UDD, to probe the allegations of the financial loss caused by the then Director Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir, was very vague in nature since the committee members were not technically sound enough to calculate the loss and thus, the aspect of loss, if any, caused to the Government exchequer.

As such, the GAD has directed the H&UDD to constitute another expert committee, consisting of officers/officials who are technically sound, well-versed with the domain and competent enough, for examining the aspect of loss in the matter.

The committee so constituted afresh shall submit an explicit report to the H&UDD so that the Department shall further examine/consider the issue for taking appropriate action and submit ATR to the GAD.

Notably Housing & Urban Development Department has registered a case FIR No. 13/2020 at Police Station Anti-Corruption Bureau Srinagar U/S 5 (1) (d) r/w 5(2) of J&K PC Act Svt. 2006 and section 120-B RPC against Shameem Ahmad Leharwal, the then Director of Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir.

On 10.09.2020 a case FIR No. 13/2020 PS Anti-Corruption Bureau Srinagar U/S 5 (1) (d) r/w 5(2) of J&K PC Act Svt. 2006 and section 120-B RPC against Shameem Ahmad Leharwal, the then Director of Urban Local Bodies, Kashmir and beneficiaries on basis of preliminary enquiry (PE) conducted by Anti-Corruption Bureau to look into the allegations of embezzlement, irregularities and misuse of power by former Director Urban Local Bodies, Shameem Ahmad Leharwal. It was alleged that he purchased furniture, fixtures for newly constructed office at Bemina on exorbitant rates. It was further alleged that he, by abuse of his official position in lieu of pecuniary benefits, placed four Junior Secretaries as Incharge Executive Officers and suspended five Executive Officers and two Junior Engineers which was beyond his competence etc.

The PE conducted has revealed that pursuant to auction notice No. MC/BUD/2011-12/1330-33 dated 17.02.2012 of Executive Officer MC Budgam for outstanding of Adda fee/Entry fee contract for the year 2012-13, highest bid of Rs. 35.00 lacs among 34 bidders was received. However, as the highest bidders did not show interest to take contract, the EO recommended for extending contract to the second highest bidder for Rs. 26.00 lacs. The then Director Urban Local Bodies Kashmir Shameem Ahmad Leharwal without any cogent reasons, rejected the recommendations of Executive Officer for awarding the contract in favor of second lowest tenderer. He, ust to confer undue benefits upon the contractor, shifted the bid venue to Srinagar and allotted the contract in favor of one Ali Mohammad Sheikh S/o Ghulam Rasool Sheikh R/o Budgam for Rs. 18.39 lacs only, after getting it re-auctioned.

The PE conducted has further revealed that the person in question during his tenure as Director ULB Kashmir, purchased furniture, fixtures, khatambands, etc worth Rs. 52.00 lacs approximately without any tendering, without prior concurrence of Finance Department or approval of Administrative in violation to then prevailing norms. The purchases made were on highly exorbitant rates.

It has also been found that the said Director ULB Kashmir diverted funds to the tune of Rs 15.00 lacs meant for up gradation of Urban infrastructure. The funds were meant for construction of lances and drains under Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission. Instead of spending the amount under budget ahead, he is incomplete disregard to the guidelines of the scheme,, spent it on computer networking system of Directorate of ULB at Bemina.

It was also alleged that Shameem Ahmad Leharwal while being Director ULB Kashmir, suspended many Junior Engineers and Executive Officers and reinstated them against pecuniary considerations. Also in lieu of pecuniary gains, he, by abuse of his official position placed four Junior Secretaries namely Javid Ahmad Mir, Farooq Ahmad Malik, Gowhar Ali Tugo and Ghulam Hassan Mir as In-charge Executive Officers in complete disregard to the seniority list.

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