Illegal construction in minister’s govt house, UT officials stall it

Punjab Minister of State for Transport Ajit Singh Kohar resides next door to the advisor to UT Administrator

After former Punjab DGP P S Gill who recently hit the headlines over alleged vandalism in the government house he was allotted, it is now a sitting Punjab minister who has courted trouble over illegal construction in his official residence.

Incidentally, Minister of State for Transport Ajit Singh Kohar resides next door to K K Sharma, the advisor to the UT Administrator. After discovering that illegal construction was going on in the house right next to the senior-most bureaucrat of the UT Administration, the officials concerned swung into action and claimed to have "stalled" the construction.

Kohar is an MLA from Shahkot, Jalandhar, and is currently holding the portfolio of legal and legislative affairs, elections besides his key portfolio of transport.

Sources said that as soon as the matter was brought to the notice of the UT officials by the people in the "neighbourhood", a team of the UT Estate Office went to check the illegalities and prepared a detailed report, noting that the occupant of the house had violated building byelaws, raised the height of the walls and also constructed sheds in the house.

Sources in the UT Administration said a letter was written to the minister by the UT Administration's Department of Urban Planning apprising him of the violations in the house and how these tampered with the existing heritage of these houses in Sector 7.

When contacted, UT Finance Secretary-cum-Secretary, Engineering and Urban Planning, V K Singh said, "We have taken cognisance of the matter. We have also written to the secretary, PWD, Punjab, regarding the construction and the illegalities. For now, we have stalled the construction."

Asked if the illegal sheds and the raised boundary walls would be removed by the UT Administration, Singh said,

"We are looking into all the aspects of the matter for further action."

A visit to the house on Tuesday revealed that the construction material was lying in the house and the walls had been raised to a height more than permissible under norms.

Interestingly, while the UT officials are working at a snail's pace in the inquiry being conducted into the alleged vandalism of the house number 500 in Sector 16 which was allotted to the then DGP Punjab P S Gill, they have acted rather swiftly in this case.

Drive to check illegal practices

Significantly, the UT Administration's Engineering Department and the House Allotment Committee, which is responsible for allotting government accommodations in the city as per an applicant's seniority, recently launched a drive to check all illegal practices such as sub-letting of government houses, commercial activities being carried out from the residences and the building byelaw violations in government houses. Any complaint regarding sub-letting and misuse of the government accommodation could be forwarded to the office of the Executive Engineer, Capital Project Division No. 3, Sector 16, Chandigarh, or Superintendent, House Allotment Committee, 2nd floor, Estate Office Building, Sector 17, Chandigarh.

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