CHANDIGARH: Instead of getting rid of old, unroadworthy vehicles, the Punjab government appears to have dumped them on Opposition MLAs. Nine AAP MLAs and one BJP legislator have been allotted official vehicles that have outlived their lives.
There are ten such vehicles that have been declared unroadworthy by the Punjab Transport Department. As per information obtained under RTI, these vehicles, all Toyota Innovas, have completed their stipulated number of kilometres.
Every MLA in Punjab is given a security vehicle by the transport department, which is either a Toyota Innova or a Maruti Gyspsy. The MLAs who have been allotted rickety Innovas are BJP’s Som Parkash, elected from Phagwara, and AAP’s Aman Arora (Sunam), Rupinder Kaur Ruby (Bathinda Rural), Gurmeet Singh Haher (Barnala), Manjit Singh Bilaspur (Nihal Singhwala), Nazar Singh Manshahia (Mansa), Pirmal Singh (Bhadaur), Kulwant Singh Pandori (Mehal Kalan), Baldev Singh (Jaito) and Budh Ram (Budhlada).
The Opposition MLAs accused the Congress government of turning a deaf ear to their repeated requests to change their vehicles. Apart from frequent breakdowns, the rundown vehicles also pose a risk of accident.
“I have raised this issue in the Assembly that some of these vehicles, including the one allotted to me, have run more than 4 lakh km are not roadworthy, but no one listens. In the vehicle allotted to me, my security travels while I travel in another one. The official vehicle often breaks down,” said Som Prakash.
Gurmeet Singh complained, “I have requested the state transport department many times and also told the Assembly Speaker personally that the vehicle allotted to me is in bad condition but to no avail. I use it to travel within the town (Barnala). If I have to go outside, I take my own vehicle. There’s no guarantee how many times the official vehicle will break down. The average is not more than 5-6 km.”
Aman Arora was abroad, but his staff said though the vehicle allotted to the MLA was changed, even the new one was in poor condition and broke down frequently.
A source close to Ruby said her Innova once met with an accident and she, too, had met the Speaker to get her vehicle replaced.
Speaker Rana Kanwarpal Singh confirmed to The Sunday Standard that these MLAs had met him with requests for getting their vehicles changed. “I have told the government to replace the vehicles. I recently held a meeting where the transport minister was also present, besides other officials of the department. Their vehicles will be replaced, it is in the pipeline.”