The Congress government in Punjab, which had inherited 14 Land Cruiser vehicles from the previous SAD-BJP government and added two more to the fleet later, is set to splurge on yet another bullet-proof Land Cruiser taking the total number of such vehicles in CM’s security category to 17.
According to a proposal by Punjab DGP earlier this month, the purchase of a new Land Cruiser and its bullet-proofing will cost more than Rs 1.75 crore. The proposal is being examined by the Finance Department.
A government functionary said Motor Vehicle Board permission might be required to give clearance for the purchase of new Land Cruiser as it was beyond the sanctioned fleet of 14 such vehicles in CM’s security.
The DGP’s proposal, which was forwarded by the Punjab Home Department, also seeks budget sanction to spend more than Rs 25 lakh on bullet-proofing of two Maruti Gypsy vehicles purchased for CM’s security in last fiscal.
The budget sanction has been sought from Rs 2 crore earmarked under a given clause to make purchases for CM’s security in the current financial year.
Before previous SAD-BJP government decided for a 14 Land Cruiser fleet, there were nine bullet-proof Montero vehicles and two Land Cruisers for former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal as both of them were in the ‘high security’ protection category.
The Akali government phased out these Montero vehicles as they were compatible till Level 3 bullet-proofing, and Level 4 bullet-proofing — which is for armour-piercing weapons, would have taken a toll on its mobility. Land Cruisers are compatible for Level 4 bullet-proofing. A professional in the bullet-proofing business said Level 4 bullet proofing of Land Cruiser costs around Rs 30 lakh.
In the beginning of this year, a bullet-proof Land Cruiser was given by Punjab government to then Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in the wake of “increased threat perception”. Among the reasons given for the “increased threat perception” by the Punjab government was Sidhu’s hug to Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa during swearing in of Imran Khan as prime minister of Pakistan.