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HindustanTimes Sat,12 Jul 2014

Two months on, MC fails to collect R35 lakh fine from contractors

Sanjeev Bhalla , Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, July 18, 2013
First Published: 21:32 IST(18/7/2013) | Last Updated: 21:33 IST(18/7/2013)

More than two months have passed since the streetlights' committee submitted its report levelling allegations against contractors' functioning, but the Municipal Corporation has failed to collect the invoice amounting to Rs. 35.05 lakh as penalty from them.

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A seven-members committee under the chairmanship of senior deputy mayor Kamaljit Singh was formed to probe the allegations levelled by Congress councillor and leader of Opposition Jagdish Raj in the house meeting held on December 17, 2012, regarding non-functioning of streetlights, contractors' negligence while performing duties and use of sub-standard material by contractors.

Deputy mayor Arvinder Kaur Oberoi, Jagdish Raj, Ram Gopal Gupta and Bhagwant Rai Parbhakar, both BJP councillors, additional commissioner (O&M) PS Jaggi and assistant commissioner (O&M) Lakhwinder Singh were other members of the committee, which submitted the report on May 4 this year imposing a penalty of Rs. 35.05 lakh on contractors Inderjit Bajaj and Raj Kumar Luthra.

The fine was imposed for being lax in painting poles, covering open cable joints with tapes, clearing and restoring fibre/glass covers, leaving loose and uncovered junction boxes, putting electricians on duty without proper uniform among other shortcomings as per the contract.

The committee also gave 15 days' time to contractors to make 565 non-functioning streetlight points operational failing which penalty amounting to Rs. 3,000 per point was imposed.

Last year, a photojournalist died due to electrocution after coming in contact with open joints, while he was returning home. The contractor was immediately asked to cover the open points on priority basis.

Jagdish Raj, while talking to HT said: “The MC officials are not strict with contractors. A big scam can be unearthed if investigations are carried out on the payments made to contractors. If streetlight poles in city have not been labelled properly so far, then on what basis did they increase the bill for per pole payment? Everything is being done illegally and defies logic.

MC officials are hand-in-glove with contractors and this is continuing since past several years.”
Raja had also raised the issue of non-maintenance of streetlights in the house meeting held on July 9.

“The officials present in the meeting had no answer to my queries at that time and even now, they have failed to do anything in this regard,” he said.

Contractor Amit Bajaj when contacted said: “The penalty was levied on us without considering all aspects of the issue. We accept our shortcomings, but how can they claim penalty from us, when the bills worth crores of rupees are still pending with the MC since 2010-2011? All contractors have approached the court to claim release of their dues.”

Speaking on the issue, assistant commissioner, streetlights Lakhwinder Singh said: “Regarding penalty of 565 missing and non-functioning streetlight points, we had notified them on July 11. Rest of the penalties imposed on them would be deducted while making payments to them.”

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