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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Long delayed, work on new RPO building in Amritsar begins

Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, August 21, 2014
First Published: 21:20 IST(21/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:45 IST(21/8/2014)

Construction work on the new Regional Passport Office (RPO) at Ranjit Avenue has begun finally begun, six years after the ministry of external affairs bought a 2,000-square yard plot. The authorities now expect the building to be ready by December 31, 2015.

Even as this is a trickle of positive news, there seems to be no end to the blame game for the late start of work on the prestigious project.

Local passport officials have blamed the delay on Amritsar Improvement Trust officials, alleging that they put up certain hindrances to the start of the project. Interestingly, the trust fined the ministry of external affairs
Rs29 lakh for buying the land but not starting construction within the stipulated period.
The passport office has been functioning from a rented accommodation.
Amritsar passport officer JS Sodhi told HT, "We got possession of the land in Ranjit Avenue in March 2008 and were given 36 months for construction by the Trust. However, the trust imposed restrictions on height and other factors which were not acceptable to us and there was regular correspondence for waiving of restrictions regarding the construction plan. The delay is not due to our mistake. Still we paid a penalty of `29 lakh. Now, finally work began in March this year."

On the expected completion date, he said: "The improvement trust has given us time till December 31, 2014, to complete the construction, but we feel that it will be complete by December 31, 2015. We will apply for extension in construction time and also request the Improvement Trust to refund the penalty because the delay did not happen due to our fault."


THE BUILDING

Coming up close to the existing passport office, the new building will be a state-of-the-art facility with a basement and three floors. The MEA had sanctioned `16 crore for the construction of the building whereas the land was bought for about  Rs. 10 crore.
Sodhi claimed: "Since it is huge area, we also plan to have a Passport Sewa Kendra (PSK) in the same building. All modern amenities will be available in this new facility."

FACTS AND FIGURES

Land purchased in Ranjit Avenue in 2008
Cost of the land    Rs. 10 crore (approximately)
Construction Cost   Rs. 16 crore
Improvement Trust imposes Rs. 29 lakh penalty for not starting construction work Construction started in April, 2014

Extension of construction period till December 2014
As per passport officer, building to be completed by December 2015

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