Rashid Paul

Prosecute officers involved in Handwara drinking water scam: HC tells Govt

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Srinagar August 29: The High Court on Wednesday directed the government to prosecute the officers involved in misappropriation of public money meant for providing drinking water to people in Handwara, the frontier district of north Kashmir.

“Those involved in embezzlement of public money meant for providing potable water scheme to people in Handwara in north Kashmir shall not be spared and be prosecuted”, a division bench of the court directed.

Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe who heard a public interest petition on the matter directed that the court be informed about the stage of FIR registered in the scam by an officer of the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police by the next date of hearing.

The bench said that in case the challan has been submitted before the court of law, the progress and stage of the challan shall also be submitted before it along with the details of the persons charge sheeted.

The court observed that those who have embezzled the public money and are involved in providing the contaminated water to general masses shall not be spared and shall be prosecuted before the court of law.

The court directed the government to provide details about the water schemes which have been executed since 2010 as also the details of funds which have been received by the PHE department for supplying potable drinking water to the people.

It also directed the Public Health Engineering Department to apprise it about the process and details of disciplinary action taken against the erring officials of the department who were involved in the scam.

The multi-crore rupees scam in PHE division Handwara surfaced sometime back in which various employees of the department including many executive engineers and junior engineers are under suspension for their alleged crime of looting the public money supposed for provision of safe drinking water in the area.

The scam was unearthed in 2014 and immediately a PIL was filed before the High Court seeking probe and action against the accused.

According to the petitioner, approximately Rs 45 crores in PHE division Hadwara have been swindled, a fact admitted in its reply by the government.

The petitioner said the money was meant for the schemes launched by the government to provide potable water to the people of Handwara and its adjoining hilly areas.

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