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Posted at: Jan 21, 2019, 6:48 AM; last updated: Jan 21, 2019, 3:56 PM (IST)

‘Building notice racket’ in Patiala

Money being ‘extorted’ from owners
‘Building notice racket’ in Patiala
Photo for representational purpose only.

Aman Sood
Tribune News Service
Patiala, January 20

An alleged nexus between some senior officials and elected representatives of the Patiala Municipal Corporation has come to light whereby money is being pocketed illegally by way of sending notices to the owners of commercial buildings either already complete or recently constructed.

A councillor said in case any violation is detected during the scanning of building documents, the owner is charged anything from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 15 lakh as illegal “settlement fee”. He said mostly buildings constructed over the past decade were being targeted. 

Over the past almost two years, hundreds of such notices have been issued allegedly by the MC building branch officials and most of these subsequently withdrawn without mentioning the reason, raising serious questions over the utility of the exercise, said sources.

The Tribune has in its possession copies of several such notices.  Some senior Congress leaders, on the condition of anonymity, said a few black sheep had become a source of embarrassment for the entire leadership. They alleged even the Local Bodies Department was helpless as the issue concerned the home town of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. They said they would raise the matter with him. The 60-ward MC has 59 Congress councillors and a lone Akali.

Former Mayor Amrinder Bazaz demanded a Vigilance probe into the “open loot and action against the corrupt”.

Punjab Chief Vigilance Officer (Local Bodies) Karnesh Sharma said he would seek a report on the issue.

Punjab Principal Secretary (Local Bodies) A Venu Prasad also said he would examine the matter. Municipal Commissioner Gurpreet Singh Khaira, too, assured of a probe. “If anyone demands bribe or issues any notice to any building owner in the city, they should bring it to my notice,” said Khaira. 

 

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