Local member of Parliament Kirron Kher, in an interaction with the media on Thursday, listed out her achievements and also took a dig at the municipal councillors for playing politics rather than focussing on performance. The MP said the residents southern sectors and those living in colonies were facing several problems related to civic amenities. She, however, assured that the city will soon get round-the-clock water supply. Also, she categorically pointed out that the metro was not a viable option for the city.
She assured to include Punjabi as a language for official work in government offices, along with English and Hindi. Apart from speaking in favour of gay rights, the MP also said it was not possible to have an assembly in Chandigarh.
Metro a distant dream
When asked about the possibility of the metro project, she said, "Metro for a city having population of just 11 lakh is not an economically viable option. Even the former UT home secretaries and bureaucrats were of the view that this would add up to more troubles for the city residents." She added, "With the increasing traffic, there is a need to have underpasses or flyovers. We also can have more buses on the city roads."
While listing 'regular' water supply as her main achievement, she said, "I usually receive complaints from slumdwellers and residents of the southern sectors about the irregular water supply. Those living on the upper floors are the worst hit due to low water pressure. Though we are already getting 80 million gallon per day (MGD) water from the Bhakra Main Line, we will get additional 40 MGD soon, as the Punjab and Haryana have agreed provide the extra water from the line, which will definitely bridge the gap between the demand and supply."
She added that the Punjab had already given its written consent, while Haryana had verbally agreed but was yet to give its nod in writing.
When asked about affordable housing for the middle-class and the poor, the MP said that it was painful that affordable housing in the city had become a distant dream with the Chandigarh Housing Board offering two-bedroom house for whopping `70 lakh. "But since the land available is limited, prices are bound to shoot up, and the middle class bears the brunt. However, I will look into this and try to get affordable housing for the middle class," she assured.
Punjabi as official language
On use of Punjabi language in official work, the MP said, "Language is for communicate in a better manner. If residents can't understand a language properly, the communication becomes useless. Punjabis don't mean only Sikh… even Hindus are Punjabis. There is no harm in adding an additional language - Punjabi - along with Hindi and English for work in government offices." However, she said the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram-Union Territories (AGMUT) cadre officers should not be expected to correspond only in Punjabi as the city is a UT and officers from different states come here to serve.
Councillors shouldn't be used for politicking
"With the locals coming to me with several civic problems, I think, I will have to contest the municipal corporation (MC) polls now," said Kher, adding that councillors should not be used for politicking but for the development of the city, so that locals don't need to come to an MP for every little thing.
City too small for assembly
On the prospects of Chandigarh having its own vidhan sabha, Kher said the city was too small to have one. "Delhi is an example before us. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the national capital is also creating several problems for the Centre. I wish the city had more area for it would have been easy to manage the city with more the one MP."
On woman and gay rights
On a query regarding allegations of harassment levelled by a woman employee of the MC, Kher said while the case was being probed, the larger problem of "patriarchal thinking" was behind incidents of crimes against women. When asked about her liberal stance on gay rights and her party's contrasting stance, she said, "There are people in all parties who support gay rights, including in my party, and then there are those who oppose it. Education and gradual opening of the minds can lead to a situation where everyone has equal rights." She claimed she had sought to raise the issue in Parliament but could not get time as there is a limited time assigned for raising questions.
'Absence' and dig at Bansal
Kher said she was regularly in Chandigarh "at the cost of ignoring my family life" and her alleged absence was creation of "misreporting" by the media. She defended her "right to earn a living" through TV and movies, but added that she had refused three movies last year because she was busy in works being the representative of the people. On former Congress MP Pawan Bansal's recent remark about her being "more at India's Got Talent" than in her segment, Kher said she didn't want to criticise Bansal. "He probably does not have the talent to do TV shows and also work," is all she said.