The Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday came down heavily on the Punjab government for delay in sanctions for laying pipelines and opening compressed natural gas (CNG) stations in the state.
The HC bench of justices SS Saron and Lisa Gill also hinted at handing over the matter to the state vigilance bureau for a detailed probe.
The observation came after a private firm told the HC bench that the Amritsar municipal corporation is demanding Rs 4 crore per km for allowing a CNG pipeline to the city on a 4-km stretch. The pipeline is to be laid for public purpose, and in Delhi the firm paid a nominal price for similar work, the court was told.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Sumeet Mahajan submitted that it was due to such acts of the government and its agencies that over Rs 3,000 crore had been spent on CNG and piped natural gas (PNG) supply in Punjab, but none of the cities had been provided with these so far.
The HC bench asked the state as to how it could ask for such an amount when the pipeline was being laid for public purpose. “We want to know as to who are the people behind such a proposal. Is it being done to extract money (from contractor),” the bench observed.
The court further stated that it would want the state vigilance bureau to look into the matter, as despite a huge spending of public money, residents were yet to get the facility of CNG and PNG supply in Punjab.
The high court, however, did not pass any order in this regard, and gave the government time to resolve the issue by the next date of hearing on July 20. It came with a warning that any further delay would not be allowed, as the project is already running behind schedule by several years.
As proposed, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar are to get CNG stations, and the supply was to initially start in 2011. CNG supply assumes importance in view of four Punjab cities — Ludhiana, Khanna, Amritsar and Mandi Gobindgarh – featuring among the world’s 25 most-polluted cities, as per a report released earlier this year.