Tribune News Service
Panchkula, May 13
While the Haryana Government has declared Panchkula open defecation-free (ODF), officials of the cash-strapped Panchkula Municipal Corporation have spent nearly Rs 45 lakh only on visiting problem areas in private taxis in the past three months.
The ground reality belies claims of the ODF tag. MC officials had engaged 21 private taxis at Rs 2,400 a day from the first week of March. The work was allotted to a private company on quotation rates.
The MC staff are visiting problem areas, including Kalka, Pinjore and Barwala, in the morning and evening to keep an eye on those going out for open defecation and for challaning them.
In the past three months, they have caught 35 violators and imposed a penalty of Rs 500 on each of them.
The problem of open defection is rampant in Gandhi Colony in Panchkula, Kalka and Pinjore.
Rajesh Jogpal, MC Commissioner, said they had formed 21 teams. Team members regularly visit colonies where open defecation is rampant and make people aware of the harm it causes.
Asked about the huge expenditure of nearly Rs 45 lakh on taxis, he said they needed vehicles to visit the problem areas. He said the visits had paid off as now only a few people were going out for open defecation.
The staff members were carrying out checks and were also performing their routine duty, he said.
A senior MC official said they had floated tenders for engaging private taxis, but the rates quoted by the bidders were around Rs 3,000 per day. Therefore, they opted for quotation, where they got Rs 2,400 per day per taxi.
Had roped in transgenders
The MC had recently roped in transgenders to spread awareness about the harms of open defecation. It had engaged five transgenders, including students of Panjab University, and they were paid Rs 500 each per day. The transgenders sang songs to embarrass the violators. They even danced and greeted the violators with claps and rose sticks.
Mayor slams officials
Mayor Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia slammed MC officials for carrying out a majority of the works in the MC on quotation rates. Officials are not presenting any agenda, neither before the Finance and Contract Committee nor the MC General House. They should stop wasting public money, the Mayor said.
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