IEP Hoshiarpur, February 15
In a major reprieve to the people, the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann today announced to shut down three more toll plazas in the state thereby exposing the connivance of these plazas with the Akali-BJP alliance and Congress party to loot the people. Interacting with the media after closing three toll plazas at Majari (SBS Nagar), Nangal Shaheedan and Mangarh (Hoshiarpur), the Chief Minister said that with the closing of these toll plazas, daily Rs 10.52 lakh of the general public will be saved. He said that these toll plazas should have been closed around ten years back as their term had expired but instead of closing them the erstwhile government connived with them to mint the money illegally. Bhagwant Mann said that it is unfortunate that the politicians of the state backstabbed the people for their vested interests. The Chief Minister said that the previous governments of SAD-BJP alliance and Congress didn’t bother about the interests of the people and looted the state exchequer. He said that this is evident from the fact that the PWD Ministers of that including Partap Singh Bajwa (now leader of opposition) and Parminder Singh Dhindsa along with Sukhbir Singh Badal plundered the public money mercilessly. Bhagwant Mann said that the party which had chanted ‘Raaj Nahin Sewa’rather indulged in the service of the companies running the toll plazas. The Chief Minister dared these leaders to explain why they had ditched the people of state for their personal interests. He said that under this project of Rs 123.64 crore Rajdeep Tollways company had to construct 104.96 kilometre long road, the agreement for which was inked by Bajwa on December 6, 2005. Bhagwant Mann said that the Captain government extended a largesse worth Rs 49.45 crore in form of subsidy to the company out of a total project of Rs 123.64 crore. The Chief Minister said that the company had operated all the three toll plazas on March 6, 2007 before the formation of a new government. He said that the company had to complete the project of laying bitumen on road by March 5, 2013 which was accomplished on April 30, 2015 with a delay of 786 days. Bhagwant Mann said that for this delay the company could have been charged a fine of Rs 61.60 crore but instead of recovering this fine the SAD-BJP alliance government in a treacherous move waived it off. The Chief Minister said that this was a clear and unpardonable fraud with the people of the state. He said that for the second time the work of laying bitumen was to be completed by March 5, 2018 but was completed on November 9, 2020 with a delay of 979 days. However, Bhagwant Mann said that this time even notice of delay was not issued to the company adding that for a third time the work of laying bitumen was to be completed by January 2023, but it was never accomplished. The Chief Minister further said that the toll plaza company has sought extension of contract from his government for 533 days by citing 101 days of Covid and 432 days of farmers agitation. However, he said that his government has outrightly rejected this unjustified demand. Bhagwant Mann said that these toll plazas should have been completed by September 21, 2013 but the Akali-BJP government didn’t do that. Likewise, the Chief Minister said that these toll plazas could have been shut from September 21, 2018 but ignoring the interests of the people of the state, the Captain government continued it. He said that today also if the Akali or Congress government was there then these toll plazas would have never been closed. Bhagwant Mann said that such deep rootedness was the connivance of these parties with the toll company that they had put it in the agreement that in case of any flouting of norms the fine to be imposed on the company will not be more than Rs. 6.12 crore. “But we will take legal action against the company and issue notices for violating the norms” he added. On the occasion Cabinet Ministers Brahm Shankar Jimpa and Harbhajan Singh ETO, Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly Jai Krishan Rouri and others were also present.