Brushing aside the image of a political novice as given by his opponents, mayor Amarinder Singh Bajaj has fired the first salvo against his namesake and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh by accusing him of ill-planned development in the city.
While paying the last instalment of the Rs. 45-crore loan which the Patiala municipal corporation had taken at the time of Capt Amarinder Singh as chief minister in 2004, the mayor on Thursday issued a release, targeting Amarinder for "lack of vision, causing irreparable loss to the MC and ill-planned development in the city".
The MC is debt-ridden after this loan, which was taken from the National Capital Region Planning Board, to augment the city water supply and sewerage system. The MC, by cutting all costs, on Thursday paid the last instalment of Rs. 3.7 crore.
"For the past 10 years, the MC has been paying the loan, which was not properly used for want of planning. The money was used to cover the Gandha Nullah from Lahori Gate to Shahi Samadhan, but the then caretakers of the MC didn't perform their duty well. No space has been left to clear the nullah, which has become a headache for the MC. Besides, the sewerage laid in Patiala rural has also not been laid properly," said Bajaj.
"It's like the Congress brought a permanent headache for the MC. First, we paid Rs. 72 crore, including the interest, on a principal of Rs. 45 crore, and second, the work was done in a haphazard manner that it's causing trouble to everyone. And, it also put the MC in debt for 10 years," alleged the mayor.
He said that on many an occasion, the MC had diverted the special development grants, which it received from the chief minister or the deputy chief minister, to repay the loan. "The loan stalled the progress of our city. I am relieved as from now on the MC will spend money on development projects," he said.
"I want to make it clear that Capt Amarinder did damage to the city and did not bring about any development with this project and loan," he said.
Currently, the MC has a loan of Rs. 12 crore which, the mayor said, the civic body would repay be generating resources. "I will meet the chief minister for demanding more grant for the city," he said.
Capt Amarinder was not available for comment.