Tribune News Service
Patiala, September 14
Over 20 prime sites allotted as “Verka booths for unemployed youths” by the municipal corporation here are under the scanner over alleged favouritism to “select Congress councillors” and their aides. However, the corporation claims all rules have been followed.
Booths will not only create traffic bottlenecks, but also usurp footpaths. A thorough probe must be done to ascertain the actual beneficiaries. — Amarinder Singh Bazaz, Former Mayor
All rules have been followed by the House as per the requirement of Verka. If there is any violation, the Local Bodies Department can overturn the decision. — Sanjeev Sharma Bittu, Patiala Mayor
A majority of the booths, to come up on government land covering footpaths and roads, will generate a meagre revenue instead of the market rent.
The Opposition, however, alleges the MC’s move to benefit a few individuals will cause inconvenience to commuters and flout the “right to walk” of residents.
Information gathered by The Tribune reveals aides of a handful of Congress councillors have been allotted the booths. A temporary employee of the corporation, two persons attached with another councillor, and a few others considered close to a Congress councillor, all drawing salaries, have been allotted booths.
As per the official documents, the finance and contracts committee of the corporation had passed the resolution saying such booths would “boost Verka sale and provide employment to unemployed youngsters”. The Congress holds the majority in the 60-member corporation, barring a SAD councillor.
“In certain cases, the actual beneficiaries have got allocations in other names. The booths will not only create traffic bottlenecks, but also usurp footpaths in already busy markets. A thorough probe must be done,” said ex-mayor Amarinder Singh Bazaz.
“In a majority of the markets where the new booths are proposed, shopkeepers are already present, having bought shops spending lakhs,” he said.
SAD district president Harpal Juneja alleged public land was “encroached upon and a permanent structure was coming up” just to benefit a select few. “Such booth constructions are illegal and we will take up the matter with the MC Commissioner’s office. It is a scam to misuse properties worth crores,” he said.
MC Commissioner Poonamdeep Kaur said the land was allocated by the corporation after taking it up at a meeting of general House.
Patiala Mayor Sanjeev Sharma Bittu said all rules were followed by the House while allocating the booths as per requirement received from Verka. “If there is any violation, the Local Bodies Department can overturn the decision,” he said. Patiala District Congress Committee president KK Malhotra said he would procure the list of all allottees and inform the party high command. “I have sought the complete list of allocation to ascertain who all belong to the party,” he said.
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