Punjab’s Local Bodies, Tourism and Cultural Affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday suspended a sub-divisional officer (SDO) of water supply and sewerage board on charges of negligence of duty.
The decision to suspend the official was taken during his surprise visit to the border town of Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district.
He was there to review the various development projects undertaken by the previous government led by Parkash Singh Badal.
During the visit, Sidhu found laxity in working of SDO Jugal Kishore and took the decision to suspend him.
Sidhu also ordered a vigilance probe into the irregularities committed by the municipal corporation here into development projects worth Rs 61 crore, including the allocation of 60 commercial booths at ‘throwaway’ prices and bungling in the water supply and sewerage works.
The minister visited the site of the Rs-5 crore stadium project at Baba Gadhya and spoke to the officials concerned. He directed Corporation Commissioner Devinder Singh to submit a report to him within three weeks.
Warning the erring officials of suspension, Sidhu formed a four-member social audit panel, comprising district Congress chief Joginder Singh Mann, Punjab Congress general secretary Harjit Singh Parmar, block Congress chief Sanjeev Bugga and senior party leader Satbir Singh Sabhi.
The civic body here is ruled by the SAD-BJP coalition.
Stating that e-governance will be introduced in his department to ensure statewide accountability and transparency, Sidhu told reporters that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will be visiting his department on Tuesday.
"I will urge the Chief Minister to order a public audit of all the projects undertaken by the SAD-BJP government in the last 10 years, so that the scams and frauds of the previous regime come under the spotlight," he said.
A financial as well as a public audit were necessary to unearth the truth, the cricketer-turned-politician added.
An agency with a "high credibility" will be engaged to conduct the public audit, said Sidhu.
He claimed that irregularities were found to have been committed in development projects worth Rs 500 crore in Amritsar, adding that even Rs 50 crore were not spent on those projects.
Likewise, "not a drop of water" was supplied to farmers by the sewerage treatment plant project worth Rs 5-7 crore at Dera Baba Nanak, alleged the minister.
"I visited both the sites today (Friday) and suspended a chief engineer and a sub-divisional officer for the bungling," he said.
Informing that a new cultural policy was on the anvil, Sidhu, replying to a query, said that he was not opposed to the idea of a censor board for screening songs glorifying vulgarity, violence and drugs, but added that in this era of social media and Internet, such a board would not serve the desired purpose.
"Public awareness about our rich cultural heritage will produce the desired results," he said.
On his plans to create a pilgrimage tourism circuit, Sidhu said the five Sikh Takhts will be linked with each other -- the three in Punjab through buses and the two outside the state through air.