After taking reins of Jalandhar municipal corporation on September 22, 2012, mayor Sunil Jyoti (56) of the BJP has earned more brickbats than bouquets. Non-cooperative, aristocratic, dictatorial, passive towards people's problems… is how the opposition describes him. HT grilled him on different issues concerning the civic body.
HT: You have failed to weed out corruption. Your deputy, senior deputy mayor Kamaljeet Singh Bhatia had openly blamed you for unable to curb the menace.
I agree that corruption is there but there is no laxity on our part as we dealt sternly with those found at fault. We are against corruption and are adopting automation to reduce the menace. It takes time to show results and we are in the process.
Illegal constructions and poor roads have become city's trademarks. During your tenure, the city has witnessed little development.
It is not like that. Ever since I took over, a sum of `125 crore has been spent on developmental works. Roads are in better shape. The excessive rains had slowed the process of development. As far as mushrooming of illegal buildings is concerned, we had taken action against the defaulters. At some places, compulsions of the system don't let us act, but sooner or later, defaulters will face the music.
What's wrong between you and Bhatia? This is for the third time that he has revolted against you and your style of functioning.
A: I have no grudges against him. He had reportedly sent a letter to the MC commissioner, complaining against the alleged irregularities in the civic body. Let commissioner decide on it. I do not want to comment on any of Bhatia's acts as he is a senior leader of the city.
The MC has failed to recover dues, which is hampering the development of the city.
It is not like that. Whatever figures of dues are being shown include the dues towards government offices, or those who had been exempted by the state government. In some cases, people are clearing their dues in instalments. We are speeding up the collection of dues. I believe that 'money makes the mare go' and being the mayor, I can show results only if there are enough resources. We are hopeful that with the collection of property tax, we will become self-dependent. It is a welcome decision of the government.
You are lenient towards contractors. Despite shortcomings in their works, MC is clearing their bills.
Not at all. We have penalised several contractors for shortcomings in their work. We are not asking them to deposit penalty but have intimated them that the penalty would be deducted from their dues. Due to shortage of funds, MC owes crores of rupees to contractors and we are making payments to them in instalments. Almost all contractors are cooperating with us.
Don't you think you are dependent on Jalandhar north MLA KD Bhandari? Why not other leaders?
A: (Laughs) that's not how it is. I am as close to other MLAs of the city as I am to Bhandari ji. Developmental projects are being divided proportionally for all segments. All the MLAs are very close friends of mine and always bring problems of their areas to my notice.
The MC seems to have cancelled the door-to-door garbage collection project under political compulsions. Is it so?
Not at all. It is our dream project for the betterment of the city. We wanted permanent and amicable solution to the problem. Director local bodies is in touch with the union leaders and discussing the issue with them. Very soon, the city residents will see the project in place.