In a classic example of caring two hoots about wastage of public money, the audit report states that all nine nominated councillors and 10 Congress lawmakers supported the scrapping of an under-construction day market in Mauli Jagran, even as Rs 22 lakh had been paid to the contractor, causing loss to the public exchequer.
The audit department has now written thrice to the municipal corporation commissioner to recover the money from the councillors, to no avail.
The annual audit report, prepared by its local audit department, points out anomalies and says that that a huge amount was already spent by different wings of the civic body before rescinding the Rs 86.44-lakh project by the general House and scrapping it at that stage was indeed wasteful expenditure.
The report adds that councillors who supported the agenda were liable for the wastage and money should be recovered from them under Section 416 (1) of the MC Act.
Even in the minutes of the meeting in August 2013, the names of some of the councillors who favoured scrapping have been removed, but the names are well-known otherwise (see box). The minutes mention only names of Congress councillors, Subhash Chawla, Pardeep Chhabra, Sat Prakash Aggarwal, Harphool Chander Kalyan (now mayor).
The MC has approaved market project in March 2011 and work was allotted in April 2012. One-third of the work was completed when the issue rocked the House in the meeting on August, with the Congress itself questioning the fact that even as booth allotment was under the purview of the UT administration, then what was the logic of the MC constructing the structures?
With the help of nominated councillors, the Congress voted to scrap the project, even as the BJP-SAD alliance, the BSP and the Independents opposed the move.
The opposition alleged it was the Congress which had approved the project, and the construction had commenced chief architect. Tenders were called twice, and work was allotted to BS Builders in April 2012.
WHAT NEXT ?
Councillors responsible for the loss will be summoned and issued a show-cause notice on why the amount should not be recovered from the account. Since the examiner (local funds account) is satisfied that the loss is due to the councillors, he will order recovery. Under section 416 (1) of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 [as applicable in Chandigarh] — every person shall be liable for the loss, waste or misapplication of money etc, if such loss is caused by him
PARENTS MAY MOVE HC
Parents plan to file a petition in the high court to seek a review of the order. Gurcharan Anand, a resident of Mubarakpur near Zirakpur, whose son plans to enroll for the MBBs course, said: “Students are midway through their session. Any change in the eligibility criteria, therefore, would definitely harm their career. We hope the Chandigarh administration doesn’t revise its MBBS admission policy.