Row over crackdown on illegal construction: Jalandhar MP, MLAs to meet Sidhu to bury the hatchet as CMO intervenes

Some MLAs have openly come out against the demolition of colonies and suspension of MC officials.
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar | By HT Correspondent, Jalandhar
UPDATED ON JUN 19, 2018 12:51 PM IST

After local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s strict action against illegal colonies and the suspension of eight officials of the building branch of the municipal corporation here created a controversy with a few MLAs from the city expressing resentment, the chief minister’s office (CMO) has intervened to bury the hatchet.

The major embarrassment for the party and the government came when Jalandhar (West) MLA Sushil Kumar Rinku joined the protesters and mounted a JCB earthmover to stop the demolition of an illegal colony near Deol Nagar on the Kala Sangha road here.

Won’t allow any thief MLA to encroach upon govt land: Sidhu

Even as the Congress high command is trying to settle down the differences between the MLAs and local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, the minister continued to take a tough stand saying that he will not allow any ‘chor’ MLA to encroach upon the government land.“A one-time settlement policy doesn’t mean that anyone can encroach upon the government land. Is this a joke or a jungle raj? ki koi vi ik-adha chor MLA uth ke sarkari jagah gher lave (That any thief MLA can encroach upon the government land),” Sidhu told this reporter over the phone.
Referring to the action of Jalandhar (West) MLA Sushil Kumar Rinku climbing a JCB machine and stopping the demolition of a colony near Deol Nagar, Sidhu said that it came to the fore that Rinku has a partnership on that 7.5- acre government land.
“Rinku has been describing it as an anti-people drive, he should tell me whether people were living there where the MC carried out the operation. It was only a boundary wall, which was constructed on the government land to get the benefit under the one-time settlement policy,” he said.
Sidhu said that he has been receiving videos from various people showing that there is huge encroachment in the Jalandhar (West) area, represented by Rinku. “I will verify the facts and the drive will be continued,” he said.
Meanwhile, about the meeting with Jalandhar MLAs, Sidhu said that he has got some work in Delhi and will meet them after returning from Delhi.

Following instructions from the party high command, member of Parliament Santokh Singh Chaudhary, all the four MLAs of the city Rinku, Pargat Singh (Jalandhar Cantonment), Avtar Henry Junior (North) and Rajinder Beri (Central) and mayor Jagdish Raja held a meeting and decided to meet Navjot Sidhu in a day or two to settle the differences. Deputy commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma, commissioner of police Parveen Kumar Sinha and MC commissioner Basant Garg were also present in the meeting.

Highly placed sources said that the meeting of MLAs was held after the administration informed them of serious repercussions for disrupting public servants from carrying out their duty.

A political adviser to the CM, who is organising the meeting of MLAs and the MP with Sidhu, pledging anonymity, said that they have to bring the situation under control as the resentment expressed by the MLAs has already dented the image of the state government.

“The differences must be settled as the image of the chief minister is at stake,” he said.

Asked about the proposed meeting with Sidhu, Rinku, a highly vocal leader, who was the first to oppose Sidhu’s move, said that they have decided to meet Sidhu to share their problems with him.

MLA Beri, who was also one of the opponents of Sidhu’s action, said that they will request to bring out a one-time settlement policy for regularisation of illegal colonies and buildings.

MLA Pargat Singh, who was the one to accompany Sidhu during the operation, said that the MC commissioner has informed him and other MLAs that Sidhu is coming for surprise checking.

“Sidhu is minister of local bodies and he has done what was right for the welfare of the city. The operation was carried out even in my constituency, but residents are happy,” he said.

Mayor Jagdish Raja said that their main demands will be zoning of the city and declaration of a one-time settlement policy at the earliest.

Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar said that the meeting of MLAs with Sidhu, the government will try to sort out the problems being faced common men and discuss action against illegal colonisers.

“This the high time that the government should tighten the noose around encroachments, which have gone on unchecked. Our aim is to check illegal construction,” Jakhar said.

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