Activist alleges irregularities in Rs 55-cr Chali Khoo mission

Today News Online Service

Amritsar, May 26

The Rs 55-crore restoration work on Chali Khoo complex and other sites, taken up three years ago by the MC under the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY), has raised eyebrows with an activist alleging grave financial irregularities.

RTI activist Suresh Sharma says the MC spent four times of what the market price of the installed items is.

Sharma, who procured the bills paid through an RTI query, has demanded a Vigilance inquiry into the alleged connivance of MC officials and local politicians.

“The contractor was supposed to install cemented slabs around 205 trees as they charged Rs 4,341 per slab, but it was learnt during a visit that slabs were installed around only 60 trees. Rs 8.89 lakh had been paid in bills for that. Ironically, the MC officials paid an exorbitant amount of Rs 15.72 lakh to remove weeds from Chali Khoo complex. Moreover, weeds are still flourishing there,” he says.

The bills show MC paid Rs 23.82 lakh to install 107 German lights, costing Rs 22,269 each, but the ones installed are locally made and the market price is not more than Rs 8,000 per light, he alleges. Lights worth over Rs 60 lakh have been fitted at Chali Khoo.

Sharma further says the high security glass installed in the building costs Rs 1,830 per square foot on papers, but its actual cost is Rs 600 per square foot. “The MC is supposed to install 81 steel bins, costing Rs 14,140 each, and they paid Rs 11.45 lakh for this. But the bins used are of substandard material, which have been damaged without use as building is yet to open for public,” he added.

Sharma also raised questions on the 15 water harvesting chambers in Gol Bagh. He claimed the borewells had inappropriate depth and the chambers were not functional. “The price of furniture installed at Chali Khoo is also high. The state government and the Central Government should conduct separate inquiries to find more misappropriations,” said the RTI activist.

When contacted, SDO SS Malhi, who undertook the restoration work along with Sanjay Kanwar, then in-charge of the project and XEN (Civil) of the MC, said, “We are ready for an inquiry.”

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