After giving a cold shoulder to long-pending demand of its own employees for allotting land for a housing society, the Chandigarh administration has agreed to give space to Punjab and Haryana for setting up their new offices and residential accommodations in the city.
Both states had been demanding land in their joint capital city for several years, and now the administration is learnt to have agreed to allocate eight acres each to them. While they would get five acres each in Colony No 5 for housing -- land currently occupied by slumdwellers who are to be rehabilitated in Dhanas by the next month - the two states get three acres each in Sector 38-west for new offices.
Ironically, for its own employees, the administration is seeking land for housing in SAS Nagar and Panchkula districts of Punjab and Haryana respectively. Last year, after officials in the UT cited limited vacant land as reason to refuse space for staff housing, administrator Shivraj Patil had issued directions to seek land in the two satellite towns.
Now, unhappy with the decision of allotment for Punjab and Haryana staff, UT and MC Employees Sangharsh Committee general secretary Balwinder Singh said, "The UT administration should give preference to its employees, and not be so considerate just towards employees from neighbouring states and slumdwellers." There are around 5,000 employees working in different departments of the UT and MC. The committee has been seeking around 70 acres.
Despite repeated attempts, UT finance secretary VK Singh was not available for comment.
CHB to blame?
Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) had launched a self-financing housing scheme in 2008 for UT employees. As per the official record, the administration earmarked 45 acres in Sectors 52, 53 and 56. Interestingly, building plans were approved before land was handed over to the CHB. Later, as the administration asked CHB to pay 25% of the total cost of land within 90 days, the board failed. Under the scheme, 252 3BHK, 168 2BHK, 3,066 1BHK and 444 category D (economically weaker sections) dwellings were to come up.
States, too, face delay
The actual handover of land to the two states in Colony No 5 may take longer as staff of the Chandigarh Housing Board is planning a strike that may delay the moving out of the slumdwellers from the land that was otherwise to be completed by the next month.