The digging up of freshly-laid roads to lay underground internet cables by a private company has become a flashpoint for frequent clashes between city residents and a private telecom company, Reliance.
On Friday, residents of Master Tara Singh Nagar forcibly stopped the work being carried out by the company in their area.
Over the last month, the laborers of the company engaged in the work of laying underground internet cables have faced stiff resistance at Model House, Lamba Pind, Kanal Road and Old Jail Road for digging and spoiling newly-built roads.
However, the company claims to have valid permissions for carrying out the digging and also states that it repairs the road that it does dig up.
Reliance manager Saurabh Yadav said, "We have valid permission from the Jalandhar municipal corporation for carrying out the work. This is part of our effort to set up our infrastructure for the 4G network and we have done a soft launch for it in the city. For this, we need to constantly maintain the cables for the network."
He added, "People have made it a habit of blocking our work under the influence of local politicians and just want to blackmail the company. We have a contractual agreement with the MCJ, and we carry out repair work at places where we dig for laying underground internet cables."
Councillor moves court
However, ward number 40 councillor Pradip Singh claimed that the company was also digging up roads for which it did not have the permission to save money.
"They had no authorisation to dig up a road in my ward and ended up destroying a stretch, which had just been repaired at a cost of Rs 22 lakh," he claimed.
The councillor has filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court against the company. At the first hearing on April 10, the high court ordered the MCJ to check if the company had valid permission to carry out work in ward number 40, failing which FIR was to be lodged, but till date no action had been taken.
"The officials of the company have been visiting my residence to push me towards striking a compromise. The next hearing is due for August 14, and the company has failed to prove before the corporation that they had valid documents to carry out the work in my ward."
'Digging carried out at night'
Meanwhile, residents have also complained that the company carried out the digging at night to avoid getting caught and after laying the cables, fill the dug up area with rubbles and leave. This in turn damages the road. During the unseasonal rain in March this year, many stretches where the underground internet cable had been laid caved in.
Mayor Sunil Jyoti said, "The residents and company officials, both are at fault. There are some miscreants who try to stall the work so that they can pocket some money, but at the same time the company is also playing a cat and dog game with the corporation."
"The company has attempted to carry out digging at many places, where permission had not been granted. This should not be the case. If they are working for the betterment of the city the company should work under the ambit of law and inform the corporation officials well in advance before carrying out work at a place, even where the permission has been granted to avoid harassment."
They had no authorisation to dig up a road in my ward and ended up ruining a stretch, which had just been repaired at a cost of Rs 22 lakh.
Pradip Singh, councillor, ward number 40
People have made it a habit of blocking our work under the influence of local politicians and just want to blackmail the company. We have a contractual agreement with the MC.
Saurabh Yadav, Reliance manager
The company has attempted to carry out digging at places, where permission had not been granted. If they are working for the betterment of the city the company should work under the ambit of law.
Sunil Jyoti, mayor