Chandigarh: The Punjab Vigilance Bureau during its anti-corruption drive on Tuesday arrested Forest Range Officer Budhlada Sukhwinder Singh for causing financial loss to the state exchequer by committing embezzlement of funds amounting to Rs. 45,69,000 for preparing cemented tree guards and Rs. 7,00,000 lakh for Bamboo tree guards in connivance with the then Divisional Forest Officer Mansa Amit Chauhan and others. The accused prepared fake bills of bogus firms and withdraw the money by diverting government funds to different bank accounts.

Giving this information here today, a spokesperson of the Vigilance Bureau said the Bureau had already registered a case FIR 07 dated 06.06.2022 under sections 7, 7-A, 13(1)(A)(2) and 13(1)(A)(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. and under sections 120-B, 409, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 of IPC at Vigilance Bureau Flying Squad police station at Mohali.

During the investigation of this case, it was found that the above said Sukhwinder Singh was posted as Forest Range Officer Budhlada from November 2021 and at that time Amit Chauhan, IFS, was also posted as Division Forest Officer Mansa. In the year 2021, under the compensatory afforestation scheme, the Principal Chief Conservator Punjab had given an approval to forest range Mansa for procurement of 5872 R.C.C. tree guards out of which 2537 tree guards were to be prepared by Forest Range Officer Mansa at a total cost of Rs.45,69,000.

He informed that under the said scheme, Sukhwinder Singh prepared 2537 cemented tree guards from two private firms namely Ambey Cement Store, Channo, Sangrur district and N.S. Jain Cement and Accessories Store, Patiala and obtained purchase bills from these firms. During the investigation about the GST numbers and contact numbers of these firms written on their bills, it was found that no firm exists with the present addresses. The GST numbers mentioned on the bills were not issued by the concerned department which clearly shows that the bills were fake and the firms were also bogus.

The spokesperson further added that total amount of the budget was withdrawn in cash on the request of Sukhwinder Singh. During the investigation, it was found by the Vigilance Bureau that Forest Range Officer Budhlada embezzled Rs.45,69,000 regarding 2537 cemented tree guards.

He revealed that it was also found that in December 2021, the said Sukhwinder Singh had purchased bamboo tree guards worth Rs 7 lakh from a firm named Gurukirpa Bamboo Store, Mansa through different bills, but this firm was also non-existent at the said address and the PAN number written on the bills was also fake. The investigation of the Bureau has established that above mentioned Forest Range Officer Budhlada in connivance with then Forest Range Officer Mansa had embezzled Rs.7,00,000 by preparing fake bills of fictitious firms.

The spokesperson added that on the basis of all the above facts and investigation conducted so far, Sukhwinder Singh had conspired with Amit Chauhan and others to prepare bogus bills of fake firms with fake signatures. He transferred the government money to a different bank account and cash was withdrawn thereby caused financial loss to the treasury by embezzling the total funds of Rs 52,69,000 released to purchase different types of trees guards. On the basis of this probe and misappropriation of the funds, the Bureau has arrested Forest Range Officer Budhlada Sukhwinder Singh. Further investigation in this case is under progress.

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