Kirron Kher the main force behind Tribune flyover, reveals RTI
Minutes of the MoRTH’s standing finance committee meeting on January 21, 2019, to clear the flyover project at a cost of ?183 crore, accessed by HT, make it clear that the project took off because of Kirron.
From getting minister of road, transport and highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari’s nod for the Tribune flyover project in 2018 to pushing for a ‘bhoomi pujan’ at the earliest, Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher was the main force behind the flyover project, reveals information accessed by Hindustan Times under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Minutes of the MoRTH’s standing finance committee (SFC) meeting on January 21, 2019, to clear the flyover project at a cost of ?183 crore, accessed by HT, make it clear that the project took off because of Kher.
“Upon the demand raised by the local Member Parliament, the hon’ble minister made an announcement on June 5, 2016, of the construction of flyover at the Tribune Chowk,” states the meeting’s minutes.
WHEN MINISTRY ALMOST DUMPED THE PROJECT
However, the project almost derailed after UT made a demand for ?900 crore but no funds were allocated to it at a meeting held in the ministry on May 8, 2018, as part of an Annual Plan of national Highway Works for 2018-19. It was held under the chairmanship of DG (RD), MoRTH.
In a desperate bid to save the project, Kher, on June 21, 2018, wrote a letter to Gadkari seeking his personal intervention in the matter. “It came to my notice that no budget provision for this project has been made by the ministry for the current financial year 2018-19. The project is required to be started in this year to fulfil the public demand but the Chandigarh Administration is unable to proceed further due to non-provision of budget by the Ministry.”
Kher wrote she would be grateful if Gadkari looked into the matter at a personal level, directed the officials to make the budgetary provisions and expedite approval of the DPR when submitted by the Chandigarh administration “due to involvement of larger public interest and so that the foundation stone can be laid and the work could be started.”
A copy of the letter was forwarded to the Punjab governor and UT administrator VPS Badnore with a request asking him, “To use his offices to get this matter expedited for Government of India”.
GADKARI ‘PERSUADED’ TO CHANGE HIS MIND
After Kher’s letter, a meeting was called by the ministry on July 25, 2018, under the chairmanship of Gadkari where Kher and secretary, MoRTH, were also present.
In the meeting, it was clarified by Gadkari that his commitment was only to resolve the congestion problem of Tribune Chowk and it could be not be expanded further as proposed by the Chandigarh administration.
On “persistent persuasion” by Kher, however, Gadkari agreed to upscale the investment on this proposal up to a maximum of ?200 crore, the minutes of the meeting reveal.
Following the directions from the ministry, dated August 7, 2018, UT administration revised the initial proposal of around ?900 crore and it was finally approved for ?183 crore.
BHOOMI PUJAN AT THE EARLIEST
After the MoRTH approvals and with the general elections approaching, Kher, on February 26, 2019, wrote to the UT finance secretary stating that as the finalisation of tender (for the project construction) would take Time, bhoomi pujan should be done before March 5, 2019.
When contacted, Kher, said, “I am currently in Delhi attending Parliament session. I will address the issue on my return to City.”
JUNE 4, 2016: Kher writes to Gadkari demanding flyover
RESULT: Gadkari announces the project on June 5, 2016
JUNE 21, 2018: Writes to Gadkari for MoRTH to make budgetary allocation for the project
RESULT: Meeting called to discuss project funding
JULY 25, 2018: At MoRTH meeting, Kher persuades Gadkari to increase funds for the project from ?100 crore to ?200 crore
FEB 26, 2019: Writes to UT finance secretary to hold bhoomi pujan
MARCH 3, 2019: Bhoomi Pujan done, foundation stone laid