Cost of patriotism: After wind, scam charges hit tallest Tricolour in country at Attari border | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Cost of patriotism: After wind, scam charges hit tallest Tricolour in country at Attari border

Alleging a scam into the high cost of the highest Tricolour (360 ft) in the country installed at the Attari border, outgoing chairman of Amritsar improvement trust (AIT) Suresh Mahajan has sent a communiqué to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought a CBI inquiry into the matter.

punjab Updated: Mar 30, 2017 23:39 IST
Usmeet Kaur
The national flag at the Attari border near Amritsar.
The national flag at the Attari border near Amritsar.(HT File Photo)

Alleging a scam into the high cost of the highest Tricolour (360 ft) in the country installed at the Attari border, outgoing chairman of Amritsar improvement trust (AIT) Suresh Mahajan has sent a communiqué to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sought a CBI inquiry into the matter.

Mahajan said the flag was initially planned to be fixed at a 85-metre (280 ft) pole at a cost of Rs 99.97 lakh but its height was stretched to 105 metre (360 ft), inflating the cost to about Rs 3.43 crore. “It means that a 20-metre increase in the length cost the AIT about Rs 2.43 crore. Thus the matter needs to be probed,” he said.

“I had made a noting (on the file concerned) with instructions not to release the payment for the cost of the national flag before conducting an inquiry. Besides, I wanted to fix some responsibility for the maintenance of the Tricolour, but officials released the payment ignoring my noting, which clearly shows involvement (sic) of someone from the trust with the private firm (which executed the project),” said Mahajan.

The flag has already been torn thrice due to velocity of winds and every time the new flag cost Rs 1.5 lakh to AIT.

Don’t politicise the issue: Joshi

Reacting to Mahajan’s charges, former local bodies minister Anil Joshi who had got the Tricolour installed, said he would not oppose a probe into the matter, but instead of politicising the issue, the AIT should look for a solution as the winds were damaging the national flag repeatedly. During the past 25 days, it has been replaced three times after being damaged by winds.

“Rather than bringing the money spent on the flag under scanner, the AIT must focus on solving the problem faced by the flag right now,” said Joshi.

Regarding the failure to take technical advice before installing the country’s tallest flag, Joshi said, “My intention was just to take a unique step to give a fillip to the feeling of patriotism among people who visit the border. I also wanted the project to be completed within my tenure. As far as taking technical advice is concerned, that’s officers’ job. Whatever they told me I trusted and went ahead.”

“It is surprising that the cost of patriotism is pinching the trust. Crores of rupees are spent on various projects. Why has it become an issue if some money has been spent on the national flag for which countless soldiers have laid their life?” he added.