Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Harvinder Singh Phoolka has accused the municipal corporation (MC) for not awarding the tender of outdoor advertisements so as to favour the state public works department (PWD) minister's kith and kin, running an advertisement company. While addressing a press conference on Monday, Phoolka said awarding tenders properly would fetch the civic body `35 crore per annum.
Referring to the Punjab and Haryana high court's direction declaring the advertisements illegal and asking for their removal, Phoolka said MC had defied the court orders in order to extend favour to the minister and his kin, adding that the corporation had charged a meagre amount of `5 per square feet to save and protect their interest.
He further stated that the MC had received a tender of `150 per square feet, but had not finalised these tenders and was keeping the site vacant for the past one year. "The officials of MC have already caused a loss of `35 crore to the exchequer in this one year. On the other hand, MC officials have allowed aid to the company owned by the son and other family members of PWD minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon by permitting illegal advertisement at the charges of `5 per square feet," Phoolka alleged.
He also stated that the illegal advertisement had been allowed on an area of 25,000 square feet in this last one year. "The MC is keeping its own area vacant, which could have got it revenue of `35 crore. On the other hand, the companies which want to advertise are forced to hire the area from the company owned by Dhillon's family by charging amount of `15 per square feet per annum," Phoolka added.
Meanwhile, pointing towards property tax on the public under the garb of generating revenue, the AAP leader observed that even the poor are forced to pay the amount.
Stating that the total revenue from property tax was `28 crore per annum, Phoolka said on the other hand, if the MC gave this area for outdoor advertisement, it could earn `35 crore and there would be no need for the MC to charge property tax.
"We demand that the MC should immediately give its own area of outdoor advertisement which was given up to 2013 and has been kept vacant for the past one year. Also, remove the illegal advertisement put up by Lead Ads Pvt. Ltd, the company owned by the minister's family," Phoolka demanded.
When contacted, Sharanjit Singh Dhillon denied the allegations stating Phoolka did not have an issue thus he was bent upon creating one. "All allegations are baseless as we have done everything under the given procedure, abiding by complete transparency," Dhillon claimed.