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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Contract violated, public paying bills of high-security plates' vendor

Vivek Gupta, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, February 23, 2014
First Published: 11:51 IST(23/2/2014) | Last Updated: 11:55 IST(23/2/2014)

In a gross violation of the agreement for providing high-security registration plates to vehicles, the vendor contracted by the UT administration is blatantly evading electricity charges and payment of other utilities under the nose of local authorities for the past one year, causing a considerable loss to state exchequer.

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The agreement signed between the vendor, Real Mazon India Ltd, and the administration on December 26, 2012, says the administration is responsible only for providing space to the vendor on the premises of the Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA) offices. Charges of the utilities, including electricity and water, have to be borne on actual basis by the vendor, and, for this purpose, the firm even has to get sub-meters installed.

But the vendor has been operating at the RLA head office in Sector 17 and the sub-office in Industrial Area since February 26, 2013, without installing any such meters. Thus, it is the state exchequer that is footing the bill for the vendor's consumption of utilities at the RLA offices. It is learnt that a sub-meter has, however, been installed at the RLA sub-office in Sector 42, though the company's local head, Satish Chandra, did not confirm the details despite repeated calls.

The vendor, which till last week had one fee counter at each of RLA office, has recently increased its manpower and set up an additional counter for fee receipt at all three centres. This will also mean an increase in electricity consumption.

Technically speaking, the vendor is also liable to pay for the space it is using in the RLA offices. As per the contract, the vendor was supposed to erect pre-fabricated kiosks at his own cost on the premises of RLA for its operation. But it is operating from inside RLA offices.

In December last, even the accountant general (audit) had raised the objections to the vendor using the utilities at the cost of the public exchequer without putting up its own infrastructure as per the terms of the contract. No action has been taken. RLA incharge Kashish Mittal could not be contacted despite repeated calls on Saturday, though he had confirmed on Friday that the audit had raised objections on this issue and the due process "will be followed soon".

City-based advocate-activist Ajay Jagga said, "Being the supervisory body, RLA's officials should be held responsible for not ensuring that the vendor is doing its work as per the contract."

As reported by the HT on Friday, the vendor has also failed to start online application and fee payment facility. The contract clearly states that the vendor would provide a system whereby vehicles owners could make online registration for new HSRPs and get e-receipts after paying the fee online too. The system, if introduced, would cut the hassles of the public.

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