Cancel auction to fell 3K trees, says ex-wildlife warden - ECAS Punjab

Cancel auction to fell 3K trees, says ex-wildlife warden

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Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 23

A complainant has sought formal cancellation of the auction of 3,396 trees at Thana village in Hoshiarpur by alleging that the contractor had violated the resolution on payment for the auction.

With the District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) still seeking permission for the defaulting contractor in a formal letter, the complainant, Gunraj Singh, a former Wildlife Warden, Hoshiarpur, has alleged that the letter was “not legal or valid”. Tanda MLA Sangat Singh Gilzian has also stated that he would seek formal action against the officials concerned.

Gunraj has alleged that one-fourth amount of the auction money (due to be paid by the contractor on the same day as the auction, as per a resolution passed in the village) had still not been paid by the contractor, even nine months later.

An auction for 101 dried cheel and 3,295 khair trees was held on January 30 at Thana village in the Banga block of Hoshiarpur. As per a resolution passed by the village panchayat, the successful bidder had to deposit 1/4th of the of the auction money in demand draft/ cash on the spot and if the bidder failed to do so, a security of Rs 10 lakh would be forfeited and the auction would be made to the second bidder.

Charan Kanwal Sandhu, who bagged the contract bidding Rs 2.7 crore for 3,396 trees (formally valued at Rs 1.01 lakh by the Forest Department) was supposed to pay Rs 67,75,000 to the Thana panchayat on the day of the auction. But he only paid Rs 3 lakh in cash. Subsequently, Rs 61 lakh was paid by him but over Rs 7 lakh was yet to be paid.

In a reply to the DFO, Hoshiarpur, on queries of non-payment, the DDPO, in a letter on October 7, stated that the contractor was suffering from “depression” and “there are no violations in rules”. The letter also said that “the recovery of auction amount is the responsibility of the Rural Development and Panchayat Department and not the Forest Department. Therefore, the permission to cut trees at Gram Panchayat Thana be issued”.

from The Tribune

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