Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s government has been hit with a right to information (RTI) ‘bomb’ launched by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) revealing the details that no money was paid to the municipal corporation (MC) as monthly rent for installing 80 hoardings in Ludhiana, highlighting the achievements of the government.
The issue of hoardings has already been embroiled in controversy with experts claiming that the location of most of these billboards was allegedly against the norms and has been a cause of distraction for commuters, inviting accidents.
The facts unraveled by the AAP’s RTI expose could spell trouble for the state government. As per the information, a monthly rent at the rate of Rs 33,040 per unipole was supposed to be paid to the civic body by the state government. However, till date no money has been paid to the already cash-starved MC.
On the other hand, the cost of installing one unipole hoarding bearing pictures of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Parkash Singh Badal was Rs 90,925.
Amrit Pal Singh, joint secretary, RTI wing, AAP, Punjab, said the Badal government has failed to pay the monthly rent to the civic body. He added that many other issues have come to the fore with the help of RTI that would expose the state government in future.
Singh said tenders were not floated for the auction of unipoles and these were directly acquired by the state government.
Harvinder Singh, superintendent, MC headquarters, said a lump sum payment would be made by the state government for the unipoles.
Sources said the unipoles will remain installed till the election code of conduct comes into place. “Thereafter, an auction will be held and these poles will be allotted to private players in lieu of monthly rent,”said a source.
The unipoles are installed on the Old GT Road (Jagraon Bridge to Dholewal Chowk), Chandigarh Road (Samrala Chowk to Octroi post), Main Gole Market Jamalpur Colony, Gill Road (Vishvkarma Chowk to Octroi post), Daba Road (Dholewal Chowk to Sherpur Chowk), Hambran Road, Ferozepur Road, Model Town Road, Rotary Club Road, Malhar Road, Durga Mata Mandir Road, Mall Road, Dugri Road, Rani Jhansi Road, BRS Nagar Road, Canal Road, Udham Singh Nagar Market, Cemetery Road, Club Road, Link Road and Feroze Gandhi market.
Cases of burning unipole hoardings, in which these were torched during night time, were also reported in the past.