Tribune News Service
Amritsar, June 13
The Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar has ordered an inquiry into the lapses that led to embarrassment to the government after obnoxious advertisements were displayed on the LED screens alongside the heritage path leading to Golden Temple.
In view of the sensitivity of the location of the site, officials have been entrusted with the task of probing the terms and conditions under which the contract was signed, and prepare a framework to regulate the content to be telecast on the screens.
Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said Additional Deputy Commissioner (D) Ravinder Singh had been deputed to scrutinise each and every aspect of the contract terms and report back with his findings within a week.
The erstwhile SAD-BJP government had roped in private players under the PPP mode to instal and run five LED screens under the project “Development of LED façade for advertisement purpose in Amritsar”.
On the other hand, ADC (D) said every aspect and parameters under which the contract was awarded were being looked into. “It would be too early to say anything officially, but we are minutely examining the contract’s terms. Our focus was to find out the lacunae in the process that led to such an uproar. The matter was sensitive, as it pertains to the sentiments of devotees visiting Golden Temple. I am finding out what conditions were there regarding checks and balances over the contents which could be displayed on these LEDs and how these were ignored,” he said.
The screens worth around Rs 10 crore were installed by Jaipur-based NS Publicity India Pvt. Ltd in January and commercial operations commenced in March. The firm was given rights for 15 years. In lieu of this, it was liable to pay Rs 5 lakh per annum (with an increase of 5 per cent after three years alternatively) to the Amritsar Development Authority as rent for utilising the space, in addition to the advertisement tax to the tune of around Rs 46 lakh per year, calculated at the rate of Rs 55 per square feet per month for the 7,000-foot long LED façade.
Alleging favouritism, Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar had stated that the Heritage Street advertisement contract was awarded in violation of all norms at an abysmally low amount of less than Rs 42,000 a month in what clearly appeared to be a case of financial misdemeanour.
The PPCC chief reiterated his demand that the lease for the Heritage Street LED screens be cancelled if the contract is found to be, in any way, violating any legal provisions under the Indian law or the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister had already taken notice of it and had ordered an inquiry.
As the issue gained momentum, two of the LEDs were found running gurbani kirtan on them in the day time. Welcoming the move, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said, “It appears that the ruling government has realised its mistake. Only Gurbani should be telecast on these screens”.
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