Even as the Punjab government has imposed a ban on the use of inter-locking tiles by government or semi-government departments, including those falling under the preview of the local bodies department, the Amritsar municipal corporation (AMC) has openly flouted this directive.
On January 22, the AMC issued a tender notice in print media calling tenders for various developmental works to be carried out in Amritsar city. Among the developmental works earmarked in the tender was laying of Kota stone in the skating rink in the Ram Bagh gardens, laying of CC (concrete cemented) flooring in Dashmesh Nagar, construction of footpath along Rose Garden in the Ram Bagh gardens and laying of inter-locking tiles around the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the Ram Bagh gardens.
“The tender for the inter-locking tiles was a clear violation of the orders of the government,” local RTI activist Naresh Johar told HT on Monday, while showing the information he got from the AMC by using the Right to Information Act.
He pointed out that the AMC inter-locking tiles' work involved a cost of around Rs. 6.5 lakh. The calling of tenders itself was a violation of the orders of the government, he added.
The government orders issued on December 4 clearly specified that in future, inter-locking tiles were not to be used by any government or semi-government department. The orders were issued following a meeting chaired by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in October.
The ban order issued on the directions of principal secretary, local government, was particularly directed at municipal corporations, municipal committees, improvement trusts, nagar councils and nagar panchayats. Though no reasons for the ban were specified the government took this decision after receiving complaints that pavements lined with inter-locking tiles did not last long as the tiles easily get displaced under pressure and the movement of a single tile from its place spoils the symmetry of other tiles, damaging the entire pavement.
The floating of the tender was not the only instance of violation of the government order. The AMC used inter-locking tiles on parts of Lawrence Road and near the Power Colony on Majitha Road in January when the ban was in force.
These tiles became popular a couple of years back when the Chandigarh administration used these on the pavements in a number of sectors. The Punjab government was quick to follow the suit and began using the tiles not only in the cities but even in certain villages also.
In Amritsar, these tiles have been used on the pavements in Ranjit Avenue, Hall Bazaar and a number other commercial and residential areas, including footpath outside the Golden Temple complex. In the B-Block of Ranjit Avenue, these tiles have sunk and have even been uprooted.
Amritsar municipal commissioner Bhupinder Singh Rai admitted that tenders were called for laying inter-locking tiles at Ram Bagh. “But we have since withdrawn it. All works using inter-locking tiles have been stopped and contractors have been told to use CC tiles,” he said.
However, RTI activist Naresh Johar contested this claim on the ground that the AMC while giving information on the use of inter-locking tiles did not specify that the tender notice on January 22 stood withdrawn.