District headquarters since 1852, Gurdaspur has failed to develop the basic civic amenities in more than 150 years.
Nature had given it the bounty of thick forests, orchards and gardens, besides big banyan and peepal trees in each locality; and its roads and pathways were lined with shady trees such as sheesham, kikkar and mango. In the olden days, it also had big “chhappars” (ponds) to collect rainwater, and natural and planned drains to carry away the sewage.
The attractive town in the foothills of the Himalayas, a favourite spot of the British colonial masters and the summer retreat of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, lost its beauty to the increase in population. The jungles, orchards and gardens disappeared and up came unplanned new colonies in the outer parts. Almost all trees, big or small, were cut to clear land for new permanent settlers from the villages nearby.
(With more garbage around than inside, the bin on Geeta Bhawan Road in Gurdaspur is a
waste. HT photo)
The municipal committee (now municipal council) cleared the city of trees in the name of widening the roads. It has installed 15 tube-wells in Gurdaspur, yet the water supply is irregular in some wards. The digging of new drains is incomplete, and there aren’t enough sweepers to maintain sanitation. At every turn, there’s garbage and foul smell, and more refuse around than inside the MC-placed waste containers.
Choked with plastic waste from houses, the drains have become the breeding grounds of mosquitoes, and the risk of malaria and other vector-borne diseases hovers over the city. Several metres of shop fronts are encroached upon, and the iron rods, logs, sand and shuttering material dump there have laid obstacles for traffic.
Long rows of illegal kiosks have come up even in the busy markets of Sadar Bazar, Library Road, Geeta Bhavan Road, Tibri Road, Trimu Road, Kahnuwan Road, Kalanaur Road and GT Road, congesting the space. “The town’s main garbage dump is at Mann village,” said MC administrator Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu. “Our employees clear the containers twice a day but we can’t handle the general lack of civic sense, and that people would rather litter the streets than use the bins,” he added.
The MC administrator agreed to tackle all encroachment on public spaces and ensure regular cleanliness.
Some members of the ruling alliance have made permanent illegal structures on the government land
Raman Bahl, former MC chief
The authorities concerned should ensure regular cleaning of the streets, check air pollution, and give us streetlight
Manjit Singh Dalla, property dealer
The administration should educate the public about cleanliness and do its best to make Gurdaspur pollution-free
Rajinder Trehan, petrol vendor
The MC should wake up and make us feel that we live in 21st century and not in the prehistoric times
Pushkar Nanda, lawyer
I have taken charge only a few days ago, and need time to set things right. You will see the improvement shortly
Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu, MC administrator