The Chandigarh administration and the municipal corporation have been operating around 25 maintenance offices for roads (temporary structures set up to control and manage road construction) allegedly without metered power and water supply for years. The connections, especially for power, are simply drawn through an illegal direct connection (commonly known as kundis).
The apparent theft is all the more appalling as the MC mandarins and the administration officials claim to have no idea of the theft, or its extent, even as the offices are under the supervision of their staff some, at the level of Junior Engineers (JEs) and Sub-Divisional Engineers (SDEs).
During its survey, an HT team found that most of these offices occupied prime property in the city, of the order of 5 kanals or more JEs and SDEs are using these offices and are fitted with air conditioners, coolers, fans and tubelights; heaters are used during the winters, even as rules mandate that the JEs are not allowed to install ACs in booths at maintenance offices.
There are guards too and their huts too enjoy the luxury of free electricity and water. Most shacks of the guards were also found to be equipped with fridges and coolers.
SDE Ramesh Kumar with the UT administration, who takes care of one such office in Sector 29 said: “I have only recently been transferred to this place and do not know about the connection.
I will look into the issue on Monday and apply for a connection.” A guard at the Sector-46 maintenance office of MC admitted that there was no metered power and water connection, but the SDE would be requested to apply for the same.
MC executive engineer Jaipal Singh, who takes care of Sector 46, said: “I have never visited the maintenance office in Sector 46 and hence do not know about the connection.”
Within hours of the HT team questioning SDE Ram Pal Bains, who takes care of the maintenance office in Sector 35, on the lack of connection in the office, an electricity sub-metre was installed at the guard’s hut.