Punjab has recently witnessed a change in guard after the Assembly elections with the former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal led SAD-BJP government being replaced by the Chief Minsiter Capt Amarinder Singh led Congress dispensation and now, the minsiters are sweeping out political appointees of the previous regime. In the current case, all the Local Body Department officials who were appointed by former minister Anil Joshi are now finding things going against them as Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu has removed a few of them and even suspended another. As per an Indian Express report, Joshi reacted and called Sidhu’s move the ‘unleashing of vendetta against the officials and a bid to demoralise them.’
As per reports, Sidhu has removed the Chief Town Planner Hemant Batra who was appointed by Joshi, calling him not qualified for the post. The Punjab Minister has also removed Engineer-in-Chief and Chief Vigilance Officer Anil Kumar Kansal as the had retired last year and was on extension.
The report also stated that various departmental inquires were made against Batra before Joshi took over in 2012. Both the Local Bodies Department officials were removed by Sighu on April 19. Sidhu also suspended the sub-divisional officer (SDO) of water supply and sewerage board Jugal Kishore. After a surprise visit to the Sewerage Treatment Plant in Dera Baba Nanak, Kishore was immediately suspended on charges of dereliction of duty. Kishore was said to have been on close terms with Joshi and was posted in the former minister’s home district.
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Kishore’s suspension came following a complaint from local MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who had alleged that the STP was not functioning properly. The MLA informed that contaminated water was entering into fields of farmers thereby damaging their crops. Taking prompt action against the MLA’s complaint, Sidhu rang up the SDO and ordered his suspension with immediate effect.
However, speaking to Indian Express, Joshi justified his stand by saying that the two officials were appointed as there were no qualified officials in the department at that time. He said, “We formed a committee to appoint the CTP. When there is no qualified person in the department, what would we do? We will make do with whatever is available. Who would I appoint if we do not have qualified officers? It is up to the sitting minister now. He can do whatever he wants to with the officials. But there is panic in the department as Sidhu is calling everybody corrupt. The officials and employees are getting demoralised. Is this a way to treat them? Is everybody corrupt in this world?”