Poll panel rejects Punjab’s octroi abolition, more cash seized

Chandigarh : The Election Commission (EC) has rejected the Punjab government’s decision abolishing octroi on petrol and diesel sales in towns and cities across the state, officials said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, more unaccounted cash of Rs.59 lakh was seized from various places in the state in the 24 hours since Monday morning.

Chief Electoral Officer Kusumjit Sidhu said that the Punjab government’s decision to abolish octroi has been rejected by the EC.

The decision had made petrol and diesel cheaper by 70-80 paise per litre in Punjab.

The state government had Saturday announced its decision to abolish octroi on the sale of petrol and diesel within the municipal limits of towns and cities across the state with immediate effect, a few hours before the poll panel announced the Jan 30 election date for Punjab’s 117 assembly seats.

“The government decision has been rejected by the EC. The government straight away passed in order without following due procedure and necessary amendment in the law,” Special Chief Electoral Officer Usha R. Sharma told reporters here.

“The government reasoned that they had paucity of time (for taking the hasty decision),” she added.

Authorities in the state seized nearly Rs.59 lakh of unaccounted money in cash. While Rs.30 lakh was confiscated a car near Khanna town, Rs.10 lakh was seized from Mohali, Rs 9.5 lakh from Barnala, Rs.5 lakh from Rajpura and Rs 4.5 lakh from Hoshiarpur.

Nearly Rs.85 lakh of unaccounted money in cash was recovered by the authorities Monday.

Sharma also said that all the distilleries across the state would be under constant surveillance.

“Election department micro-observers have also been posted in all the distilleries. CCTV cameras with seven-day recording would be installed in the distilleries,” she said.

Authorities confiscated four trucks of liquor and bags of local drugs from Hoshiarpur and Jallandhar.

Following complaints, thousands of hoardings violating the Model Code of Conduct have been removed at various places in Punjab, Sharma added.

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