Punjab local bodies and tourism minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday accused the previous Parkash Singh Badal-led SAD-BJP government of derailing mega projects such as Smart City, AMRUT and Swachh Bharat Mission by not releasing funds received from the Centre or the state share.
Sidhu said the Badal government had not released 85% of the Rs 531 crore received from the Centre for these projects, halting their progress. “The Union government had released Rs 200 crore as its share for the Smart City project in Ludhiana, but the state government released only Rs 32 crore.
While the balance amount was not released, the state government also did not give even a penny from its matching share of Rs 200 crore for the project. The funds were diverted,” he said, holding the former CM and his son Sukhbir Badal responsible for the slow progress on these projects.
The project is funded by the Centre and the state on 50:50 sharing basis. The minister said the Centre had responded by telling the state that no grants would be released for the Smart City projects in Amritsar and Jalandhar.
Similarly, Rs 153 crore was given by the Centre for the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), but the state released only Rs 33 crore to the local bodies department, he said, before citing the examples of Swachh Bharat Mission and Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) in Amritsar.
Documents released by the minister showed that the state was to provide its matching share of Rs 253.49 crore to Punjab Municipal Infrastructure Development Company (PMIDC) for these flagship projects of the Centre in 2016-17, but it did not release any money. He said the Congress government would bring these stalled projects back on track and give its share of grants by raising funds through alternative sources such as land and mining auctions.
Sidhu, who directly blamed the Badals for the mess, also challenged them for a debate anytime, anywhere. “They should come face to face and talk directly to me instead of fielding minions. I will not respond to such people,” he said, alleging large-scale irregularities in award of contracts and land during the previous regime.
Asked about the Shiromani Akali Dal’s move to bring its own white paper to counter to one being put together by the government, the minister said the state government would bring its white paper on the fiscal situation in the forthcoming assembly session, but the Akalis do not have anything to show other than such scuttled projects.