Completed Punjab projects get inauguration blues
Hoshiarpur, Punjab: Guess why a bus stand, a flyover and a bridge in Hoshiarpur district are under security cover now. The ruling political masters have not been able to spare time to inaugurate them - and they don`t want the structures to fall into the hands of opposition leaders either!
Leaders of the ruling Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress are caught in an unending game to take credit for public utility projects. The three projects worth nearly Rs.300 million have been completed but have not been thrown open for public use. They have been put under police security to keep opposition Congress leaders from inaugurating them "unofficially".
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal will inaugurate the bridge and the flyover May 11. His father and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is scheduled to inaugurate the bus stand May 29.
The Hoshiarpur administration and the Punjab government had to put up security following two instances in the last one month when Congress leaders "unofficially" inaugurated completed projects.
"After the Congress leaders started obstructing our work on these projects, we wrote to the district administration and police for security, which has been put up," public works department superintending engineer Arun Kumar said.
Congress MP from Hoshiarpur Santosh Chaudhary led a few of her supporters last month to inaugurate the renovated Rs.90 million bus stand in Hoshiarpur town, 140 km from Chandigarh.
"There is nothing wrong with what we have done since the bus stand is already complete and people should be allowed to use it. Moreover, it was completed with funds from the central government," the Lok Sabha member said after the `inauguration`.
Congress legislator Sangat Singh Gilzian and his supporters were booked by police a fortnight ago when they inaugurated the new Rs.150 million (Rs.15 crore) flyover in Tanda town, 40 km from here.
They have been booked for damage to public property and obstructing government officials from performing their duty.
"The flyover is already complete. So why should people suffer till it is formally inaugurated?" the legislator asked.
Both the projects have been put under police security pending formal inauguration. The public has not been allowed to use the completed facilities till the formal inauguration is done.
A third project, the Rs.55 million bridge over the Bhangi Choe (seasonal rivulet), too has been put under security to save it from any "illegal" inauguration by Congress leaders.
The Badals could not spare early dates to inaugurate the projects.
Punjab Minister for Forests Tikshan Sud, who hails from Hoshiarpur and is a BJP leader, said, "The Congress leaders have no business to inaugurate these projects. These have been executed and completed due to my efforts and with the support of Punjab government funds. The Congress has a habit of misleading people."
The trend of forced inauguration was started in 2003 by then BJP MP from Gurdaspur and Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna, who led his supporters to inaugurate a crucial bridge on the Beas river that linked Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts. The Congress was then in power in Punjab.
That bridge had to wait for a long time for formal inauguration as then Congress chief minister Amarinder Singh did not spare time early to inaugurate it.
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