Chandigarh, Sep 25 Initiating another step towards eliminating the VVIP culture in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered immediate steps to ensure that the photograph of the Chief Minister is not carried on government ambulances.
The putting up of photographs of the Chief Minister during the previous Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government (2007-2017) in the state had led to a controversy. The photographs of the then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal were put on the ‘108’ helpline ambulances and the state had incurred huge losses on this count.
“Parkash Singh Badal’s fixation for having his picture embossed on these ambulances had cost the state exchequer heavily over the years and had even led to a stand-off with the central government in 2013, when the latter had threatened to stop a Rs 3.5 crore central grant to the state over the issue,” a Punjab government spokesman said here on Monday.
“The issue had snowballed into a major controversy two years ago when the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) rapped the Punjab government for forgoing central grants under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) on account of its refusal to remove Badal’s pictures from the emergency ambulances,” he added.
In its 2015 report, the CAG had said that Punjab had lost out Rs 23.8 crore of central grant for ambulances over three fiscals from 2012 over its failure to follow a prescribed uniform colour code of the NRHM.
In his directive to the officials concerned here on Monday, Amarinder Singh ordered a fresh notification to ensure that no pictures of the Chief Minister are carried on the ambulances in future.
“Amarinder Singh’s pictures were not put on these ambulances after he took over as Chief Minister,” the spokesman added.
He said that the Chief Minister had made it clear that he wanted the process to be initiated without delay and ensure that the ambulances align completely to the NRHM rules.
Punjab had earlier ordered removal of red beacons from official vehicles, even before the Central government initiated the move.