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Amid chaos, SGPC passes ₹1,205-crore annual budget

Members, Kiranjot Kaur and Balwinder Singh Bains, raised questions regarding the fund allocation but their voices were suppressed during the proceedings.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 31, 2019 14:18 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
punjab budget,chandigarh budget
SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal (right), acting jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Harpreet Singh (centre) and other SGPC members addressing mediapersons after the budget session(Sameer Sehgal/ht)

The Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandk Committee (SGPC) unanimously passed a ₹1,205 crore annual budget at the Teja Singh Samundari Hall, headquarters of the apex gurdwara body, on Saturday.

Members, Kiranjot Kaur and Balwinder Singh Bains, raised questions regarding the fund allocation but their voices were suppressed during the proceedings.

Questioning the 85% increase in the fund allocated for the travel expenditures of SGPC members, Kaur said, “In the last financial year only ₹10 lakh was allocated for the same though the actual expenditure came out to be ₹70 lakh. How is this possible, when the members’ expenditure was less than ₹1 lakh as per records? This year ₹85 lakh have been allocated for travelling.”

To drive her point home, she quoted another SGPC member Tota Singh, who while addressing the session had said most SGPC members did not use the fund allocated for travelling and bore the expenses as they were the ‘sewadars’ of the Sangat. Tota Singh’s statement was endorsed by many members. However, Kaur was interrupted and not allowed to speak further.

Addressing the media after the session, she said there were many other lapses in the budget and the Sikh Gurdwara Act (1925) had been violated on many counts. She also questioned the ₹1 crore that was given to a polytechnic college in Fatehgarh, though the expenditure was not approved.

Another member, Balwinder Singh Bains was also not allowed to speak. He was trying to take up the cause of the 523 expelled employees, who are staging an indefinite sit-in outside the SGPC head office.

Tota Singh, who had been a Punjab minister in the SAD-BJP regime, said members of the opposition should also be heard because the gurdwaras were not anybody’s private property.

SGPC general secretary, Gurbachan Singh Karmuwala, delivered the budget speech. For the second consecutive year, the SGPC has earmarked a sizeable amount (₹12.63 crore) for the celebrations of the 550th Parkash Gurpurb of Guru Nanak Dev. This years allocation was only ₹4 crore short of last year’s allocation.

The funds allocated for propagating Sikhism were increased from ₹76 crore to ₹84 crore, while ₹14 crore were earmarked to aid the underprivileged Sikh sections in other states and ₹2 crore were alloted for dharma faujis. A section of the budget was also reserved for aiding victims of natural calamities.

A total of ₹37 crore were allocated for education and ₹8 crore were set aside for Sikh missions being run by the SGPC across the world. A ₹1.6 crore fund was created to compensate victims of the 1984 Sikh massacre and Jodhpur detainees. ₹16.5 crore were set aside to aid needy Sikh students at the Guru Granth Sahib World University and Miri Piri Medical College Shahbad Markanda.

BOX: Executive member shouts slogans against SGPC chief

A few minutes before the budget session, an executive member of the SGPC Baba Gurmeet Singh Tilokewala and Harpal Singh shouted slogans against SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal and other office bearers, including senior vice president Raghujit Singh Virk for not taking the grievances of expelled employees seriously.

Enraged over not being heard by the SGPC office bearers, he called the gurdwara body a bunch of thugs and thieves. He also used the same adjectives for the SGPC president. Joining the indefinite sit-in outside the SGPC office, he said the SGPC was being unjust to the employees.

He too was not allowed to raise the employees concerns during the session. Another member, Harpal Singh, also joined the sit-in. Activists of the Bhai Baldev Singh Wadala-led Sikh body ‘Sikh Sadhbhawna Dal’ also held demonstrations outside the hall.

The SGPC budget in a nutshell

This year SGPC’s was ₹4 crore above last year’s ₹1159 crore

Category Allocation

General board fund: ₹72.5 crore

Trust funds: ₹50.6 crore

Printing press: ₹8 crore

Dharam Prachar: ₹84 crore

Gurdwaras under Section 85: ₹715 crore

Fund for educational institutes: ₹238 crore

Education fund: ₹37.4 crore

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 14:18 IST