‘Suspension order’: Kulwant takes on Sidhu, Mohali House backs him | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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‘Suspension order’: Kulwant takes on Sidhu, Mohali House backs him

MC meet: 24 of 37 councillors vote in favour of resolution condemning ‘suspension’ order, mayor to file defamation suit against minister

punjab Updated: Jan 06, 2018 14:08 IST
Monica Sharma
Mayor Kulwant Singh at a MC house meeting in Mohali on Friday.
Mayor Kulwant Singh at a MC house meeting in Mohali on Friday. (Keshav Singh/HT)

 A  day after the Punjab government issued a press statement announcing mayor Kulwant Singh’s suspension — which was later retracted — the Mohali municipal corporation (MC) House on Friday passed a condemnation resolution against the order.  

Of the 37 councillors present in the House, 24 voted in favour of the resolution, even as the Congress councillors raised objection. Mohali MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu, who is at loggerheads with Kulwant, did not attend the meeting.   

The mayor also threatened to file a defamation suit against local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu, on whose orders the press statement was issued. “I have been called corrupt. I have faced a lot of harassment. I have sent the press note to my advocates. I will file a defamation case,”  Kulwant told mediapersons after the House meet.

Cost breakdown
  • The MC claimed the tractor, which is part of the tree pruning machine, alone costs Rs 28 lakh
  • Main machine: Rs 88 lakh
  • Mowing head: Rs 18 lakh
  • Washing unit: Rs 16 lakh
  • Excise duty: Rs 58 lakh

The government on Thursday issued the statement: “Mayor Kulwant Singh had been suspended for causing loss to the state exchequer”.

But two hours later, after the news spread on social media, a revised note was issued, stating, “The mayor had been issued a show-cause notice for misuse of power and causing loss to the exchequer.”

It was pertaining to the purchase of a tree pruning machine. An inquiry conducted by the chief vigilance officer (CVO) of the local bodies department found that the Mohali corporation in February 2016 passed a resolution to buy the machine, priced Rs 28 lakh in India and Rs 80 lakh abroad, at an exorbitant price of Rs 1.79 crore.

‘Govt had approved agenda’

At the onset of the meeting, Kulwant Singh walked in with a smile and  said: “I can see some of the councillors are very happy, some are less happy, some are lesser happy, but all are happy. It’s New Year and there are some new developments; something should keep happening.”

Making it clear that he is here to stay, the mayor said: “I wish we meet the same way next year. My agenda this year is development  and to come up to the expectations of the city residents.”

On the issue of tree pruning machine, Kulwant said: “The agenda was placed before the House. The House cleared the agenda and sent it to the government, which approved it. The tenders were floated, a comparative statement was prepared and after that the order was placed.”

Taking on Sidhu, the mayor added: “The minister says he can get the machine for Rs 28 lakh. It will be not be of  good quality. There is a difference between a donkey and a horse. Compare both the machines and  see the difference.”

Kulwant said the machine, which will have multiple use, including tree pruning and cleaning garbage dump and signboards was purchased from Germany, and a part of the cost component was excise duty. He said he will soon conduct a trial of the pruning machine in the city to show how it works.

Later, talking to media, he said: “I was not served any notice or given any hearing before the orders were issued through a press release. I don’t know who conducted the inquiry, as no one approached me.  It was only through the media release I got to know  of the development.” The mayor received the show-cause notice later on Friday evening.   

‘Development hit’

Earlier, during the meeting, Kulwant also accused the government of bringing the city’s development to a halt. He highlighted various development agendas that are awaiting the government’s approval for the past six months.

These include construction of public toilets, procurement of smart bins and setting up of a solid waste plant in Dera Bassi. He said after a contract for cleaning parks was allotted, the government objected to it after four months and held back the payment to contractor.

Even road maintenance has been hit after the government objected to the premix specifications, he said.