Disregarding the present financial burdens and the debt strain Punjab is going through, the government has approved the purchase of a new fleet of over 400 luxury vehicles for the chief minister, his staff, cabinet ministers and bureaucrats in the state government worth Rs 80 crore.
The state transport department has given permission to buy 16 Land Cruisers, including two bulletproof, for the chief minister, 13 Mahindra Scorpios for his staff, 14 Maruti Dzire/Honda Amaze/Ertiga for the officers on special duty (OSD) to the CM.
It is rather interesting that the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, who already has a fleet of luxury vehicles including six Mitsubishi Monteros and Ambassadors feels the necessity of upgrading the cars. He has interestingly also approved Toyota Fortuner for his 17 cabinet ministers and 97 Toyota Crestas for the MLAs.
The Punjab government has, however, denied new bulletproof Toyota Land Cruisers to the former Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal citing resource crunch. State Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal has said that the bulletproof vehicles provided to former chief minister and Akali Dal president are in good condition and there is no need to replace them.
The decision to buy new vehicles, which will be worth Rs 80 crores will be an added burden on the Punjab government which is already reeling under a debt of around Rs 1,95,978 crore.
Though officials maintained that no purchase order has been given by the state government for the new luxury vehicles so far, the farm organisations, including the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), criticised the order saying it would put an extra burden on the state exchequer.