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VIGILANCE BUREAU ARRESTS FORMER FOREST MINISTER SADHU SINGH DHARAMSOT & HIS AIDES IN AN ORGANIZED CORRUPTION CASE

Chandigarh, June 7 (Press Ki Taquat Bureau) : The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today arrested former Forest Minister, Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, for being involved in organized corruption pertaining to the issuance of permits for cutting of Khair trees, transfer of officials, purchases, and issuance of NOCs etc.  In this connection, the Bureau has also arrested Kamalpreet Singh Kamal, Press Reporter, Media Advisor of the Minister and Chamkaur Singh, Retired Range Officer-cum-OSD to the Minister.

Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the Vigilance Bureau (VB) said a corruption case under FIR no. 06 dated 02.06.2022 u/s 7, 7-A Prevention of Corruption Act, and 120-B of IPC was registered against Guramanpreet Singh, District Forest Officer, Mohali and Harmohinder Singh @ Hummy, private Contractor for demanding and accepting bribe from coloniser Davinder Singh Sandhu in lieu of not demolishing farm houses developed by his company WWICS in the vicinity of New Chandigarh, Mohali.  Both the accused were arrested on 02.06.2022 and during their interrogation they have revealed that a deep rooted nexus of organized corruption has remained prevalent since 2017 in between politicians and their associates and officials of state Forests Department.

He further revealed that during the investigation, accused Harmohinder Singh @ Hummy disclosed in his statement recorded u/s 27 of the Indian Evidence Act that he had been maintaining a hand-written diary regarding bribes given to senior officers of the Forests Department, political leaders and their front-men from time-to-time since 2017 and further, on his demarcation, the said diary was recovered from his place. The perusal and investigation into the contents of the diary has revealed the modus-operandi of the culprits which led to their arrests.

He revealed that Harmohinder Singh @ Hummy was into the business of cutting and selling of Khair trees in the State after obtaining the mandatory permit for cutting from the Forests Department in the name of his firm Gurhar Associates.  He had obtained permits for cutting of approx. 7000 trees for the October-March season for which he had to pay bribe of Rs. 1000/- per tree, which includes the payment of Rs. 500 to Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, former Forests Minister, Rs. 200 to Divisional Forest Officer and Rs. 100 each to Range Officer, Block Officer and Forest Guard, respectively.

In addition, he informed that in this way the contractor had given Rs. 7 lakh as bribe during the season. Apart from him, there were 15 other contractors in Mohali who, like him, also had to give similar bribes, otherwise they were denied permits or were harassed with the threat of heavy fines.  The payment to Sadhu Singh Dharamsot was routed through Kamaljit Singh, a resident of Khanna, who works as a Reporter and President of Shiv Sena with provision of security from the Punjab Police.  During the tenure of Amit Chauhan as DFO at Ropar, he had obtained a permit for cutting of 1160 trees at Badiali Kalan, Sub-Division Sri Anandpur Sahib after giving a bribe of Rs. 5,80,000/- (Rs. 500 per tree).

The spokesperson further highlighted that former minister Dharamsot used to get bribe of Rs. 10/20 lakh for the transfer of DFO, Rs. 5/8 lakh for Ranger, Rs. 5 lakh for Block Officer and Rs. 2/3 lakh for Forest Guard through his OSD Chamkaur Singh and above-mentioned Kamaljit Singh.  Apart from this, he added that during his three year tenure as Forests Minister Dharamsot collected Rs. one crore in lieu of issuance of permits for cutting of khair trees through his OSD Kamaljit Singh.

It is worth mentioning here that during the tenure of Amit Chauhan as DFO at Ropar, he used to show a lesser number of standing trees on panchayat lands and shared the proceeds of cutting of remaining actual number of trees with the contractors thereby causing a loss to the panchayats funds. He also used to allow illegal mining to the above-mentioned Kamaljit Singh. Besides, Dharamsot used to get bribes from colonizers, newly installed filling stations, owners of new projects as well as hotels and restaurants for issuance of NOCs in lieu of passage on forests land through Chamkaur Singh and Kamaljit Singh.

The VB spokesperson said that Harmohinder Singh contractor had given Rs. 5 lakh as a bribe to former Forests Minister, Sangat Singh Gilzian through one Kulwinder Singh for issuance of a permit for cutting of khair trees at village Nada, Mohali district.  He had also given bribes to the Range Officer, Block Officer, and Guard.  During his tenure, former minister Gilzian had arranged a meeting of Harmohinder Singh contractor with DFOs in Punjab and had directed that the purchase of tree guards for protection of plants would only be made from one Sachin Kumar. The cost of one tree guard was Rs. 2800/- out of which Gilzian’s share as bribe was Rs. 800/-.  A total of 80000 tree guards were bought at that time and Gilzian collected Rs. 6,40,00,000/- as bribe.

Divulging the modus operandi he stated that the contract for such a drive was given to a known contractor who used to deposit the cost of plants in the account of the nursery from which the plants were to be bought.  However, the contractor, without buying any plants, used to get back 80% of the money in cash after leaving the remaining 20% with the nursery. This money was then divided between forest officials and contractors. Forest officials fraudulently declared the old barbed wires installed in the forest area as ‘condemned’ and placed orders for buying of new barbed wire at inflated prices.  However, the old ‘condemned’ wires which had to be deposited in the store were never replaced.

It is pertinent to mention here that forests officials in Mohali used to flatten the natural trajectory of hills in the district in lieu of bribes.  Sometime ago, hilly area was flattened in village Nada in Mohali for construction of a paved road in connivance with Dilpreet Singh, Forest Guard and other forest officials.  During the tenure of SS Gilzian, Amit Chauhan was appointed as DFO, Ropar.  At that time illegal mining was carried out in 486 acres of land in village Jinda, near Bela within one month.  Around 50 feet deep pits were dug up in the village and Rs. 40/50 crore worth of illegal mining was carried out in connivance with sarpanches one of whom named Raja was named in an FIR which was later cancelled, he added.

After the above-mentioned revelations, a case FIR no. 07 dated 06.06.2022 u/s 7, 7-A, 13 (1) (A), (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act and 120B of IPC has been registered against Amit Chauhan, IFS, Guramanpreet Singh, DFO, Dilpreet Singh, Forest Guard, SS Dharamsot, SS Gilzian, former Ministers, Chamkaur Singh, OSD to Dharamsot, Kanwaljeet Singh of Khanna city, Kulwinder Singh Shergill, PA to SS Gilzian, Sachin Kumar. In this regard Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, former Minister, Kamaljeet Singh, Press Reporter and Chamkaur Singh OSD were arrested early this morning today and further investigation is under process.

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