Sidhu’s reverse sweep: Withdraws financial powers of all improvement trust chairpersons
In a major decision, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday withdrew financial powers of politically-appointed chairpersons of all 28 improvement trusts in Punjab. This is being seen as an indirect signal to these chairpersons, who were appointed during the previous Akali-BJP regime, to step down.punjab Updated: Mar 29, 2017 10:18 IST
In a major decision, local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday withdrew financial powers of politically-appointed chairpersons of all 28 improvement trusts in Punjab. This is being seen as an indirect signal to these chairpersons, who were appointed during the previous Akali-BJP regime, to step down.
In the formal order issued by the additional secretary, local bodies department, on Tuesday afternoon, executive officers of improvement trusts were ordered its strict compliance with immediate effect.
Most improvement trusts are cash-rich bodies. Those of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Moga and Phagwara have more financial strength than the civic bodies in these respective cities.
The new cabinet, in its first meeting, had proposed abolishment of improvement trusts in entire Punjab and merger of its staff with that of other urban development departments. Sidhu, however, strongly opposed the move, forcing the cabinet to withdraw the agenda. In the meantime, he directed the officials to withdraw the financial powers of all chairpersons with immediate effect.
“It has given a clear signal to the chairpersons to resign, as a new regime has taken over. Even the Akali-BJP combine after forming the government for the second time in 2012 had dissolved all improvement trusts,” said an official. Without financial powers, the trust chairperson is left with no work, as the rules of business give all other powers to the executive officers.
Sidhu has taken over the local bodies department from his bete noire Anil Joshi. There is a possibility that the government may mark an inquiry into the spending of the Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana trusts, as there are rumblings of corruption in these bodies. The decision may take a month or so, said sources.
The basic mandate of improvement trusts was to develop new townships, colonies and urban infrastructure, but it was later taken over by civic bodies. However, as tools of political expediency, these institutions help the ruling party to award its loyalists with membership or chairpersonship of these bodies. It was for this reason the government decided against abolishing them, said sources.