Call it insecurity of Ludhiana mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria or his effort to maintain his monopoly over the decision-making process that even after getting elected as mayor in September last, he failed to appoint two members to the Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC).
The F&CC is the most power committee of any civic body, which is responsible for sanctioning funds for the development projects.
Moreover, the Ludhiana municipal corporation (LMC) is the only civic body across the state, where the F&CC has been conducting its meeting without having a councillor as its members.
Though, as per the LMC procedures, following his/her election, the first thing that the mayor needs to do is the selection of the F&CC members from among the councillors.
The ways the mayor has been carrying out meetings of the committee, say experts, is a clear violation of the Section 42(4) of The Punjab Municipal Corporation Act 1976, which entrusted the mayor with the task of carrying out elections for the appointment of two councillors to the committee in the general house.
The section reads: There shall also be a Finance and Contracts Committee of the corporation - comprising mayor, two deputy mayors, two councillors (elected by the councillors from among themselves) and commissioners.
The aforesaid committee, the section states further, shall exercise all the powers of the corporation in relation to contracts to be entered into for and on its behalf and the purchases so be made by it.
As per a former IAS officer, who had served as commissioner at the Patiala municipal corporation, there is no existence of the F&CC without two councillor members, and the mayor could not sanction the development funds without these two members.
“Councillors have been made part of this committee to put a check on the financial powers of the mayor. There are chances of misuse of powers by a mayor, if there is no check on him,” added the officer.
The mayor's move not to induct the two councillors to the committee has already drawn flak from different quarters with the opposition Congress dubbing the move as the mayor's effort to prevent “misdeeds” to surface at the meetings.
“He knows that appointment of the two councillors to the committee will harm his prospectus. Many times earlier, he had promised to elect the members to the panel, but failed to do so,” said Congress leader in the general house Hem Raj alleged.
It was on Friday evening that the last meeting of the F&CC was conducted, where development works worth Rs 125 crore were sanctioned.
However, when contacted, the mayor reiterated that he would start the election process of the councillor to the F&CC this month.