Unhappy over the slow pace of installing high-security registration plates (HSRPs), the state transport department stopped payment and issued a notice to Agros Impex, the private company which was awarded the contract.
As the deadline to finish the installations passed on Sunday, the transport department is set to approach the Supreme Court and Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday by filing affidavits asking for more time to fix HSRPs on all vehicles.
According to sources in the transport department, HSRPs have been fixed only on 40% of the vehicles in the state.
Sources said that district transport offices (DTOs) were flooded by people who wanted to submit applications to get HSRPs fixed as the Supreme Court's Aug 31 deadline loomed large.
Sources also informed that all district transport officers were asked to rush to Chandigarh on Saturday to discuss the next course of action with senior officials. But, it was learnt, the meeting had no positive outcomes.
The department is yet to decide about the issuing of challans to those without HSRPs on their vehicles, said the source.
Earlier, the Punjab government had directed that four-wheelers found running without HSRPs after August 31 would be fined `3,000 while two-wheelers would have to pay `2,000 for the violation.
However, it is unlikely that a majority of the around seven lakh vehicles registered in the city would be able to get the plates installed. The department has managed to install the plates only on about 2 lakh vehicles since the apex court's directive in 2011.
Agros Impex has also been suffering a shortage of manpower, which is hampering the process of following the court's order.
In the past week, long queues were seen at the three counters set up in Jalandhar, even as the department's claims of extending working hours to 6 am-9 pm are only partially being adhered to.
Agros Impex zonal in-charge Arjun Singh said, "A meeting was held with officials of the transport department where we asked for an extension on the project." He added that they had increased manpower to deal with the heavy rush.
Speaking to HT, state transport commissioner Ashwani Kumar confirmed the stoppage of payment to the company because of the volume of pending work. He said, "Only 40% work has been completed so far and it reflects poorly on the company."
Saying that the firm's work was not satisfactory, Kumar added that they were reviewing progress on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, the company has assured to complete all pending HSRP installation.