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Opposition sheltering rehri mafia in Ludhiana, alleges mayor

Refuting allegations levelled against LIP and its leaders, LIP president and MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains said the party leaders were just standing by the side of poor street vendors.

punjab Updated: Aug 19, 2018 11:44 IST
Harsimran Singh Batra
Harsimran Singh Batra
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
rehri mafia,Ludhiana,Ludhiana municipal corporation
The civic body charges a composition fee for allotting space to street vendors on roadsides.(HT Photo )

The Ludhiana municipal corporation’s decision to charge composition fee from the vendors has drawn flak from several quarters.

The issue took another political turn on Saturday when mayor Balkar Sandhu accused the opposition leaders of sheltering the rehri mafia in the city by opposing the civic body’s decision of charging a composition fee for allotting space to street vendors on roadsides.

“The composition fee was approved by last General House of the MC, which was led by the SAD-BJP combine. The fee is being charged just to eradicate the rehri mafia from the city and to increase revenue of the civic body. The leaders of different opposition parties and those who are opposing the same are sheltering the mafia collecting security amount,” the mayor alleged.

Refuting allegations levelled against LIP and its leaders, LIP president and MLA Simarjeet Singh Bains said the party leaders were just standing by the side of poor street vendors.

“If the mayor comes up with specific names from our party, then I will file a complaint against that guilty person,” Bains said.

He reiterated that the MC was illegally collecting the composition fee and said, “If we are raising voice against the same, baseless allegations are being levelled against us.”

SAD district president Ranjit Singh Dhillon also refuted allegations and said they were not sheltering mafia.

“Mayor Balkar Sandhu and the Congress have turned the civic body into a mafia as fee is being collected on the name of composition fee and submersible disposal charges moving against the law,” he alleged.

“Rather than working on establishing vending zones in the city, the civic body is taking law in its hands. Also, allocation of certain space to vendors on road sides will lead to traffic snarls,” added Dhillon.

The controversy

The mayor’s statement came in the wake of voices across the political spectrum opposing the composition fee.

While earlier Lok Insaaf Party (LIP), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had raised concern, the Rehri Phadi Association recently claimed that the collection of composition fee ranging from Rs 1,600 to Rs 3,200 was in violation of norms.

The SAD-BJP district leadership had also alleged that the MC and mayor imposed the fee illegally. The leaders had claimed that no approval was taken from the MC General House and there were no rules regarding the same in the Municipal Act.

The LIP president with party councillors had also met MC commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar earlier regarding the issue.

First Published: Aug 19, 2018 11:44 IST