“What is in a name?” These famous and frequently quoted words from William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, kept pestering Gurgaon residents and even those remotely associated with the city in 2016.
In this year that will be history in a few hours, Gurgaon got a new name -- Gurugram -- and earned a bad name globally for being flooded only after a few hours of rain, bringing the city to a standstill.
In 2016, a new development agency – Gurugram development authority – was announced for the city and the year will also be remembered for the arrest of five Gugaon police personnel in a fake encounter case.
Towards end of the year, the city hit headlines again as the photograph of a retired armyman was widely shared on social media platforms, making him the face of the ill-effects of demonetisation.
Gurgaon to Gurugram
Ever since the state government on April 12 announced the renaming of Gurgaon as Gurugram on historic grounds, the public have been raising questions over the need for such a move. The government’s argument was that the area was earlier knows as Gurugram (teacher’s village) after Guru Dronacharya -- the archery master of the princes of the Mahabharata era.
The district administration records also claim that the area now known as ‘Gurgaon village’ was gifted to Dronacharya by his disciples as gurudakshina (teacher’s fee).
However, the public questioned whether basic infrastructure such as roads, power supply and sewerage connectivity would improve with the name change.
The opposition parties did not have much to offer on the renaming exercise. Objecting the word gram (village) in ‘Gurugram’, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said it should have been renamed Gurugaon as gaon (village) connected more with the people.
“Gurgaon could also be renamed as Gurugaon,” Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda had tweeted.
Notwithstanding cynicism and sarcastic comments, the state government went ahead with the move and in September, the Union ministry of home affairs gave the nod for the name change. A gazette notification was released online and Gurgaon officially became Gurugram.
Gurgaon police personnel held for ‘fake encounter’
The arrest of five Gurgaon police personnel in the fake encounter killing of gangster Sandeep Gadoli was a low point for the city’s police department. Gadoli, 32, was allegedly shot dead in a staged encounter by a team of Gurgaon police in a Mumbai hotel on February 7. The then police commissioner Navdeep Singh Virk had applauded the encounter and felicitated the team.
Things, however, soon turned topsy-turvy when the crime branch of the Mumbai police started investigation on the complaint of Gadoli’s family. The family alleged that he was killed because of rivalry with a member of the team that carried out the encounter.
In July, the Mumbai police arrested team head, sub-inspector Pradhyuman Yadav, and four other personnel.
The family is still pursuing the matter in various courts but the state government is on the backfoot after the arrest of the policemen.
Waterlogging, traffic mess
Gurugram became ‘Gurujam’ after severe waterlogging at Hero Honda Chowk led to mile-long jams on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway and arterial roads. Heavy rain on July 28 exposed the lack of preparedness and coordination among various government agencies in Gurgaon. A number of people were forced to spend the night in their vehicles on July 28 after the city was gridlocked.
Waterlogging is common during rain at Hero Honda Chowk but on July 28, two heavy vehicles were stuck in a pothole in the middle of the highway and the vehicles were not moved on time. Coupled with heavy rain and Badshahpur rain overflowing because of encroachments along its channels, jam up to Sarhaul toll plaza was the result.
The incident tarnished the name of the city that has offices of more than 250 Fortune 500 companies. Images of submerged vehicles and people waiting for help were shared online globally.
Realising that the multiplicity of government agencies was a hurdle for Gurgaon’s administration, the government appointed former director general of police SN Vashisth as the city’s chief governance coordinator.
The waterlogging and traffic mess, however, led to several measures, including expediting the construction of flyover at Hero Honda Chowk and construction of underpasses at Rajiv Chowk, Signature Tower Chowk, and Iffco Chowk.
Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar in a public rally in April announced that a development authority would be formed for the all round development of the city. He formally announced the formation of Gurugram development authority (GDA) in September. In this regard, the government appointed a committee at the Haryana Institute of Public Administration to study the structure and role of the authority. A draft was prepared by the committee but it was not published.
The government, instead, appointed senior IAS office V Umashankar, who was serving as joint secretary in the Centre, as officer-on-special-duty to carry out the task of formation of the authority. A draft bill was then prepared and revised in consultation with the public.
The revised draft bill was submitted to the government in December. In a meeting to discuss the formation of the authority, the government changed the authority’s name from GDA to Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA).
The GMDA is proposed as a planning agency that will get plans executed through other government departments including the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, police, transport and forest.
Former armyman depicts low side of demonetisation
A retired soldier, 79-year-old Nand Lal, living in a shabby rented room at Bhim Nagar, became the face of the low side of note ban. A picture of Nand Lal, crying while waiting to withdraw his pension, published on December 14 was widely shared on social media platforms and picked up by several news platforms.
Nand Lal received several offers of monetary help but he declined it. He said he only wanted to withdraw the money in his account.
The former soldier represented the plight of several citizens standing in long queues outside banks and ATMs and often returning empty handed because of the cash crunch.