Punjab’s Viticulture Council CEO was on Wednesday booked for diverting funds to the tune of Rs 4 crore without obtaining necessary approval from the competent authority.
“The CEO of council, VS Chimni had alleged diverted Rs 4 crore to the Punjab Council for Citrus and Agri-Juicing (CCAJ) for paying off land lease overdue to the farmers without obtaining necessary approval from the competent authority,” Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s Chief Director-cum-DGP Sursh Arora said, adding that a case under sections of Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against him.
Arora said that the project approval board of the state government in its meeting on November 27, 2006 had gave approval to the proposal of setting up the Grape based winery project in the state and decided that a smaller unit with a total capital cost of Rs 4 crore be set up to process the grape production.
“Initially, the money was to be invested by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited (PAICL) since the State Viticulture Council has applied for a grant under National Horticulture Mission Scheme (NHMS). It was decided that if the grant amount received from NHM, it will be paid back to the PAIC or otherwise, a new company be registered and shares equivalent to the investment made by the PAIC will be allotted,” Arora said.
Arora added that on the basis of this approval, the PAIC released the entire amount of Rs 4 crore on February 12, as advance to Viticulture Council of Punjab (VCOP) for setting up of a grape based winery project at Talwandi Sabo.
“But later, during the month of August 2010, VCOP transferred the total fund to the state Citrus Council for paying off land lease overdue to the farmers without obtaining necessary approval from the Project Approval Board (PAB), a competent authority,” Arora added.
He added that the state government after examining the irregular diversion of Rs 4 crore sent the case to Vigilance Bureau for registration of a criminal case against the then CEO (who happens to be same person for both VCOP and CCAJ) and other functionaries involved in this decision for criminal breach of trust and misuse of official position.