The surprise check on illegal buildings conducted by Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in Jalandhar Thursday has set the alarm bells ringing in Ludhiana Municipal Corporation (MC).
The building branch for the last two days has started checking illegal buildings and other violations. Mayor Balkar Singh has himself started checking illegal buildings and doing field visits. On Saturday, he checked around 15 buildings in Zone B. On Friday, he checked at least 40 buildings allegedly built without getting maps passed in Zone C and another eight in Zone D.
On Saturday, three illegal colonies that had mushroomed in Zone C at Lohara village near Satsang Ghar were also demolished. They had already installed sewage pipes, roads and built a room or two.
Fearing that Sidhu might drop in Ludhiana too anytime, the Mayor has also issued an unofficial warning to the building branch to start passing the maps of new buildings or else face action.
Contacted, minister Sidhu said that he has information about everything that “cooks” in Ludhiana MC. “I am going to strike in Ludhiana very soon. But I will catch them unawares. I have my informers and everything that cooks there reaches me. There has been no audit in the past 15 years, which led to all this khichdi (mess). All the money that should reach the government is reaching the pockets of the MC officials in Punjab and they are having properties worth crores. Apraadhi to apraadh ka bhaey bhi to hona chahiye (Culprits needs to fear their wrongdoings). I can visit anytime and anywhere in Punjab.”
Mayor Singh said the problem in Ludhiana runs “deeper” than Jalandhar. “In Jalandhar, eight building branch officials have been suspended, but if Sidhu saab lands in Ludhiana, probably the entire department will be suspended. I have directed them to mend their ways and start working honestly. I have started conducting checks myself because I know reality of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation’s building branch,” he said.
Meanwhile, S S Bindra, assistant town planner, headquarters, said that checking illegal buildings is not a “sudden awakening”, but a ‘continuous process, which has just gained momentum in the past two days”. “Since one-time settlement policy is coming up, we have speeded the process up so that no building is left out,” he said.