Talks of Government pressure in resignation letter

The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee on Saturday refused to accept the resignation of Shimla Mayor Madhu Sood “in the larger interest of the party”.

Ms. Sood had submitted her resignation on Friday evening to PCC president Kaul Singh Thakur after a recent spat with the Municipal Commissioner who had allegedly given an out-of-the-way permission to an influential builder in just one day. Usually the routine formalities and getting the map approved by the Municipal Corporation for any type of construction in the capital town takes years.

Bemloe Development and Infrastructure Company Private Limited (BDIC) is constructing a housing project in Kanlog ward of Shimla municipal area.

Following raids at the office of her husband, who is a prominent builder, the Mayor changed her stand against Commissioner A.N. Sharma, an IPS officer. She signed a statement saying all approvals to the construction company were legal and that nothing was done in haste. In her resignation to the PCC president Ms. Sood talked about some sort of pressure on her by the Government.

Meanwhile, the Himachal Pradesh State Secretariat of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has demanded a high-level inquiry by a sitting or retired judge of the High Court into the misdoings of this construction company.

The CPI(M) has alleged that in connivance with some Forest Department officers an old forest road from the Parsi Cemetery to the Old Brewery carved out during the British Raj has been thoroughly damaged and hidden under debris during construction by the company. Many young, green and seed-bearing trees have been cut illegally. It has also been alleged that the company forged signatures of some local residents to demand a new road in the area.

Soon after visiting the site and spotting freshly-cut tree stumps, Left activists held demonstrations at the construction site and at the offices of the Chief Conservator of Forests. The Chief Conservator of Forests ordered a probe following complaints by Left leaders.

The CPI(M) has said it is strange that the Municipal Commissioner provided the No Objection Certificate (NOC) the same day the application was made (April 22, 2009) for the housing project. Similarly on May 21, 2009, the Forest Department allowed the company to use the forest road though it had been stated in the past that the road is not in a condition to be utilised.

The CPI(M) has accused the government and the Municipal Commissioner of being hand-in-glove in the aforesaid project. The CPI(M) also objected to the manner in which the Municipal Commissioner has functioned saying the NOCs were provided by the Commissioner without approval from the Corporation.