SIT to probe Rs 6,600 crore transport scam in Punjab: Raja Warring

Warring took a jibe at former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and SAD president Sukhbir Badal, saying they have been “hand in glove with each other."

Punjab Transport Minister Amrinder Singh Raja Warring on Wednesday alleged that the department lost Rs 6,600 crore over the last fourteen-and-a-half years (ten years of SAD-led government and four-and-a-half years of the Congress government under former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh). He added that “the scam will be thoroughly investigated by forming a Special Investigation Team and every person found guilty, be it a leader or an official, would not be spared at any cost.”

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Warring took a jibe at former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and SAD president Sukhbir Badal, saying they have been “hand in glove with each other (Chacha, bhatije naal milya hoya si)”.

Warring, who took over as the transport minister on September 26 after Charanjit Singh Channi replaced Amarinder Singh as the CM, said that the total income of the PRTC and the Punjab Roadways have increased by 42.57%. He said that the income of the two agencies increased to Rs 104.31 crore in October against Rs 73.16 crore in the month of September. He added that the daily income from both the agencies has crossed Rs 1 crore. Warring said the daily income has gone up following a crackdown on “tax evaders, illegal activities and bus operators running without permit”.

He further said: “Ten years of SAD-BJP rule and the four-and-a-half years of Captain Amarinder Singh compromised the government and allowed sheer loot of the state exchequer. A daily income of Rs 1 crore would have translated into Rs 5,200 crore over the last fourteen-and-a-half years.”

Warring said, “The order passed in 2012 by Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Surya Kant against illegal extension in multiple permits was not implemented properly”. He added that “Now, we have implemented this decision in toto and cancelled 680 permits allowing illegal extensions of more than one lakh km. With this, the state government has started earning profits to the tune of Rs 42 lakh daily from the month of October. He stressed that if illegal extensions had been revoked during the period from 2012 to 2021, a total of Rs 1,380 crore (Rs 42 lakhs per day) would have gone to the state exchequer and this amount could have been spent on public welfare.

He said, “If Rs 6,600 crore (Rs 5,220 crore + Rs 1,380 crore) had gone to the state exchequer, 24,000 new buses could have been procured and 50,000 drivers, conductors and other staff could have been recruited for these buses and two new buses could have been run from each village of the state.”

Warring said, “As many as 304 buses have been confiscated for evading taxes, plying without permits and for other violations since I took over and 64 buses have been given challans.” He said that the transport department has been able to collect Rs 7 crore as taxes.

Notably, Warring conducted surprise checks in Mohali and Rajpura on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and ordered to impound a number of buses for flouting norms, including an Indo-Canadian Transport Company bus operating to Delhi International Airport.

Responding to a question, Warring said Finance Minister Manpreet Badal’s family-owned bus service (Raghuraj Transport) has “taxes worth Rs 13 lakh due” and he added that Manpreet had told the media that he would deposit the amount.

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