Even as the UT administration on Saturday filed a reply to the Union home secretary over closure of schools and cremation ground during the Prime Minister’s visit on Friday, but, it is learnt, it failed to fix the responsibility for the fiasco.
The explanation was sought after the Prime Minister tweeted and regretted the inconvenience to the city residents and also stated that an inquiry will be marked to fix the responsibility.
The UT administration filed a detailed reply after holding marathon meetings on the issue throughout the day. Two meetings were held at the Raj Bhawan, which were chaired UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki. Meetings were also held at the UT secretariat, which were attended by UT adviser Vijay Dev, home secretary Anurag Aggarwal, IGP RP Upadhyaya, among others.
According to sources in the administration, in the reply it has been stated that the administration had decided to close down the schools keeping in view the “safety and security” of the children, so that they didn’t face any inconvenience due to the traffic restrictions.
On confusion over the ‘closure’ of cremation ground in Sector 25, the UT administration clarified that they never ordered the closure of the crematorium. They said the confusion emanated from a news item appearing in a vernacular newspaper which had announced the closure of the cremation ground on Friday.
Sources said administration had left it to the Union home secretary to fix the responsibility. Sources said instructions had also been issued by the Raj Bhawan to the officials against issuing statement to the media pertaining to the controversy.
However, the blame game continued among the officials and the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party over the fiasco.
On Friday, Modi’s first visit to the union territory as the Prime Minister to inaugurate the new international airport terminal was marked by a virtual lock down as the administration ordered closure of 187 schools at a time when examinations were on, besides keeping the crematorium in Sector 25 out of bounds for the residents. The administration, which is seen as having gone overboard with the arrangements pertaining to the Prime Minister’s visit, were awestruck by the sequence of events. No senior official from the UT administration could be contacted despite repeated attempts.
BJP booked buses, yet to pay
The Bharatiya Janata Party had hired 180 school buses for the rally but have not paid any amount to the bus operators so far. Bus contractor Manjit Singh said, “We were not even paid the diesel expenses.” Sources said the administration had spent about `50 lakh on making arrangements for the rally.
School closure order
A blame game has begun within the administration and the Bharatiya Janata Party. The closure of schools was ordered through a written order from UT education secretary Saravjit Singh. However, there is no clarity from whom did he take instructions from.
Use of school buses for rally
After the booking of the school buses for the rally, BJP chief Sanjay Tandon reportedly conveyed to the administration to at least consider change in school timings. Tandon, however, clarified that he never conveyed about change in timings or closure of schools to anybody.
Shutting down crematorium
With no written orders for closure of the cremation ground in Sector 25 in sight, the UT departments are blaming each other. The municipal corporation authorities say they never ordered the closure of the crematorium. Sources in the BJP said asking the families to come after 3pm for cremation was the decision taken by the cops on duty around the crematorium.
The Chief of BJP’s Chandigarh unit Sanjay Tandon said that he had advised the administration not to change the rally venue from Sector 34 to Sector 25 as that might lead to traffic snarls. Tandon also said he had also suggested to change the route of Prime Minister’s cavalcade as using Dakshin Marg would lead to traffic snarls.