Chandigarh, October 2
The state of Punjab has undertaken not to go ahead with “any further construction activity” after a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleged carrying out of unsanctioned public works, constructions, and uprooting of very old trees in Sangrur merely at the instance of a minister.
The undertaking by the state counsel before the Bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli will remain in force at least till October 5, the next date of hearing in the matter. Taking up the petition filed by Jasinder Sekhon and two other petitioners, the Bench issued a notice of motion to the state of Punjab through the Chief Secretary and other respondents.
At the outset, the Bench also accepted the petitioners’ prayer for deleting the minister’s name from the array of parties. Senior counsel for the petitioners RS Bains with advocate Aarush Garg submitted that the minister was not a necessary party.
After accepting the notice, Assistant Advocate-General Avinit Awasthi prayed for a short accommodation to file reply/affidavit. On instructions from Principal Secretary, Department of PWD (B&R), Vikas Partap Singh, Awasthi submitted that the state was conscious of its responsibility. As such, “it would not undertake any further construction activity, till the adjourned date”. Appearing before the Bench, Bains contended the minister wanted to spend as much money as possible in the shortest possible time for extraneous reasons. In the process, he was not only going against the basic plan of the city and the master plan, but the process was being carried out without the sanction plans of the municipal committee which was the authorised authority. “The expenditure is wasteful to the extent that when the Civil Hospital and the schools are crying for attention, public fund is being used for complete beautification which itself makes the city ugly,” Bains submitted. Giving a list of works being executed, Bains added the petitioner’s first grievance was that the Public Works Department was constructing four welcome gates — Sunami Gate, Patiala Gate, Dhuri Gate and Nabha Gate. These were being constructed arbitrarily, without sanctioning of site plans and requisite permissions of the Sangrur Municipal Council.
“The petitioners are aggrieved by the state of affairs in the city of Sangrur where the authorities have closed their eyes and ears towards a number of illegalities happening in the city which is ripping the city of its heritage character and turning it into a slum city,” it was added. — TNS