The cold war between the camps of mayor Sunil Jyoti and deputy mayor Kamaljit Singh Bhatia over demolition of illegal buildings in the city has now turned into a pitched battle between the bureaucrats and councillors of Jalandhar.
Various councillors had pointed out corruption in the municipal corporation (MC) in a house meeting on December1, and had questioned the mayor and municipal commissioner especially over corruption in the building branch. The officials of the building branch broke their silence and launched a counter-attack on Thursday.
“The councillors who pointed fingers on the officials are the ones whose personal requests were not entertained by the department,” said Shakti Sagar Bhatia, senior town planner (STP).
“We will soon file an affidavit to the senior officials, listing all the illegal buildings. The councillors have been wrongly accusing us for no reason,” he further added.
Bhatia, who is also believed to be the right hand of Punjab local bodies minister Anil Joshi, said strict action will be taken against existing illegal buildings and violations of building bylaws.
STP threatens to quit
As he faced embarrassment in front of the all the councillors and was labelled ‘corrupt’, Bhatia threatened to quit as senior town planner, along with other officials of the building branch.
Other officials of the building branch also said they would not tolerate political mudslinging and will take action against all illegal buildings.
“We have had enough of these public representatives blaming us without any reason. We are routinely pressurised to take selective action against illegal buildings,” said an official of the building branch.
Dinesh Joshi, local BJP leader and a close associate of the mayor, said the officials of the building branch were just trying to deflect attention from the core issue.
“They are just trying to distract people from the main issue by threatening to resign,” said Dinesh Joshi.
“I have never hindered action against illegal buildings. It is their (building branch officials) personal choice if they want to resign,” said Sunil Jyoti.
“Threating to resign will not provide any solutions. Officials are answerable for their actions,” said deputy mayor Kamaljit Singh Bhatia.
Officials should complain against any kind of political interference, he added.