Austerity measures? Rs 40 lakh to re-do offices

On the day Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa,in his maiden Budget,announced austerity measures for the cash-strapped state,including a ban on purchase of new vehicles or renovation and furnishing of government offices,renovation work worth over Rs 40 lakh is currently underway in several rooms at the State Secretariat.

Written by Harpreet Bajwa | Chandigarh | Published: June 21, 2012 3:12:50 am

On the day Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa,in his maiden Budget,announced austerity measures for the cash-strapped state,including a ban on purchase of new vehicles or renovation and furnishing of government offices,renovation work worth over Rs 40 lakh is currently underway in several rooms at the State Secretariat.

According to sources,a committee room on the sixth floor is being given a new floor,an artificial ceiling and facilities such as LEDs,air-conditioners,a video conferring facility,new furniture and furnishings. It is estimated that around Rs 25 lakh will be spent on the renovation out of which around Rs 15 lakh will be spent on civil work and the rest on furnishing and electrical equipment.

A few feet away,Dhindsa’s room is also being re-done. A new floor has been made,civil and electrical work is on,wood panelling on the walls is being done,and new furniture being added. Around Rs 5 lakh will be spent on the renovation of this room.

Public Relations and Revenue Minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia’s room has also been renovated for Rs 6 lakh with work on the ceiling,flooring and wood-work. Similarly,the room of the Industries Minister Anil Joshi has been renovated at approximately the same cost.

Sources added that the transport department has recently shelled out around Rs 5 crore to buy new luxury vehicles for 21 chief parliamentary secretaries and five ministers. Around Rs 3.36 crore has been spent on 21 Toyota Corolla cars for the CPSs and Rs 1.2 crore on five Toyota Camry cars for the ministers. Also,seven new Maruti Gypsys have been bought — each Gypsy costing around Rs 7.50 lakh.

Government officials claimed that these works had started before the austerity measures were put into place. When contacted,Principal Secretary (Finance) Satish Chandra said,“No new orders will be executed or given from today. Renovation work that is going on cannot be stopped as orders had already been given. The orders for the vehicles had also been placed.’’

Set up in March,govt yet to notifty reforms panel

In his Budget speech on Wednesday,Finance Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa said the government had set up a second Punjab Governance Reforms Commission (PGRC) in March to look into the civil and criminal justice system,industrial development,education and employment,among others. The only problem: The government is yet to notify the terms and references of the body,and thus,the Commission is yet to be functional.

An outlay of Rs 62 crore has been earmarked for governance reforms during 2012-13. Dhindsa told the House on Wednesday: “Two important initiatives are planned — Integrated Workflow and Document Management System — in all secretariat departments in Chandigarh at a cost of Rs 120 crore. This system will store information and process all cases on computers,thereby,saving time.”

However,all these plans are only on paper. When asked of the delay,PGRC Secretary Anirudh Tewari said: “It is a technical hitch. Notification will be given soon.”

Sources said that the governance reforms department had sent the file for notification to the Chief Minister Office (CMO) for clearance in April. The file was lost. The department was about to send a new file again when the original was traced. At present,the file is with the CMO.

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