A former top cop was allegedly involved in an advertisement scam that led to an estimated loss of more than rs50 lakh a year for five years, according to information obtained under the Right to Information Act.
As per information obtained by Parbodh C Bali, president, Amritsar Civil Society, through RTI former police commissioner RP Mittal had signed a "secret agreement" with a city-based private advertising company on October 25, 2011 that gave the firm "absolute authority over advertisements on all traffic aids and management equipment" like barriers, barricades, booths, vehicle shelters, traffic lights, road signage throughout the area under the Amritsar city police.
Bali alleged that all police kiosks, booths and fixtures were brought under the sole advertisement right and was handed over to the private firm for a paltry amount of `8,500 per month for five years at a single stroke, even as it could have fetched the police department an annual revenue of `50 lakh per year or more if the advertisement right would have been auctioned as per rules by the police authorities concerned.
"A tender was never floated in this regard nor was an advertisement published. It was a surreptitious deal and totally against the Punjab financial rules.
"Interestingly, the information divulged under the RTI puts the period of contract for two years at one instance, while for five years at another instance," he said.
He added that the private advertising firm had, as per contract, to install and renovate traffic booths, shelters, barricades etc for advertise on them and to deposit rs1 lakh per annum (`8,500 per months) in the Traffic Police Welfare Fund and not in the government exchequer. "Moreover, the advertiser in case of expiry of the contract had sole ownership of the equipment and had right to collect equipment or sale those to the police department at the current market price," said Bali.
"The Punjab and Haryana high court has already ordered to remove all hoardings and signage from bust roads. A contempt petition is also pending in the court, in which the Amritsar police and municipal corporations are parties and are giving replies in negative," Bali maintained.
However, when contacted, Amritsar police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said he was not aware of the matter. "I will look into it when a proper complaint is sent to me in this regard," he said.
However, Mittal could not be contacted for his comments despite repeated attempts.