|Early Times Report|
Jammu, Sept 7: Former Executive Engineer of Public Health Engineering Department Kathua division had reportedly paid a whooping sum of over Rs. 7.57 Lakh as rent of a private vehicle, hired for him only. Though in response to RTI application, the department has mentioned the names of four junior officers to hoodwink the seniors, but if sources are to be believed, the Scorpio vehicle was exclusively used by the then Exen and not the lower rung officials.
In response to the RTI application, the then Executive Engineer of PHE division Kathua SK Puri vide reply number PHEK/C/576-79 dated 1/5/2017, had maintained the PHE division had hired two vehicles including one Scorpio vehicle JKO2P-3658 and a Mahindra load carrier bearing registration number JKO8A-9817.
In response to a question of money the department had spent as rent to hire vehicles, it has been maintained that against Scorpio vehicle, the department had paid a total of Rs. 757919, with effect from 4/2015 to 3/2017 that was in two years.
Sources said that the amount of Rs. 7.57 Lakhs was only rent paid for the vehicle and it was unknown as how much amount was paid for the fuel, used in the vehicle for two years.
"The initial cost of Scorpio vehicle starts at Rs. 8 Lakhs and department already has abundance of drivers, who have already been getting salaries without any work, so in such condition, the hiring of vehicle ultimately bleeds state exchequer", sources said, adding that most of the officials preferred to hire vehicles, as the vehicles were either of their relatives of on the name of some of their family member and in two years, the total cost of vehicle has been returned, after which the vehicle became another source of income for officials.
Moreover the RTI reply further maintained that for hiring Mahindra vehicle, Rs. 85200 was paid in 2016-17 and it was not mentioned in how many months.
In response to the question of the officials/employees using hired private vehicles, the reply maintained that Executive Engineer Sumeet Kumar Puri, AEE Upinder Singh, Gopal Sharma, Rakesh Mahajan, Rajeev Soi and Bhushan Singh.
"Though the names of five AEEs was also mentioned in the reply but if officials are believed, the Scorpio vehicle was solely used by the Exen and was never used by any other AEE", the reply was simply furnished to hoodwink the public as well as higher officials.
Sources further claimed that it was also unknown as who was owner of the vehicle and how many times the Scorpio vehicle was used for personal work by the then Executive Engineer, which needed to be thoroughly investigated.