Leader of the Congress group in the Amritsar municipal corporation (MC), Raj Kanwal Preet Singh Lucky, has questioned the sincerity of local bodies minister Anil Joshi towards the holy city of Amritsar, claiming that the minister had not initiated even a single developmental project in the city.
"One-and-a-half years have passed since Joshi became the local bodies minister. In this period, he has done nothing for the city which he represents in the state assembly. If he cannot do anything for his home town, then I doubt he will be able to do anything for the other cities and towns of Punjab," said Lucky in a statement issued here on Sunday.
Referring to the reported differences between Joshi and mayor Bakshi Ram Arora, the Congress councillor said that the truth had finally come out into the open. He advised the two that instead of levelling accusations against each other, the two must accept their share of blame for the "poor state of affairs that the holy city finds itself in".
Reacting to the minister's advice to the Mayor to request HUDCO for a `52 crore loan for carrying out developmental activities here, Lucky said that the minister was not aware of the stringent rules that govern such loans. Every month a certain percentage of VAT collected by MC will go to HUDCO and this process will continue till the entire loan along with the interest is not paid, he added.
"If we start paying a portion of our revenue collected to HUDCO then from where are we going to get the funds to pay salaries of the 5,400-odd MC employees, whose combined monthly salary bill is `11.50 crore", he said.
Lucky claimed that due to his differences with the mayor, the local bodies minister had "tilted" towards the Amritsar improvement trust. The minister seems to have forgotten that the MC is an elected body of 65 councillors who represent the 13 lakh residents of the holy city, he added.
Referring to the mayor's utterances in the past that the previous UPA-government had not given funds for the holy city, Lucky listed the `225 crore elevated road project, rs50 crore city bus service and rs450 crore Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), which were all cleared by former prime minister Manmohan Singh. The UPA government also gave `100 crore for the water supply and sewerage scheme and another rs28 crore for the solid waste management project, he said while pointing out that the solid waste management project failed to take off due to differences between some senior level BJP leaders.
The Congress leader claimed that in the past eight years, the state government had only given a sum of `300 crore for the development of Amritsar. The truth is that as of now neither the government nor the MC had any funds for developmental works, he added.
He advised the mayor to take a trip to Delhi and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley for getting funds for the holy city. "Now it's your own government, so funds should be no problem", he added while pointing out that he would be ready to accompany the mayor just for the sake of the holy city.