While the locals expect the Amritsar Municipal Corporation authorities to act responsibly to tackle important civic issues prior to the municipal elections, the most pressing issue being that of encroachments along the city's most frequented boulevards, the civic authorities have ignored the issue saying they would deal with it after the MC elections.
This is in sharp contrast to the district administration's assertions of dealing with such intrusions, particularly along the roadsides, with an iron hand. Ironically, the MC authorities said that they were aware of the matter, but could not do anything at present on account of the civic polls.
These encroachments can be seen in almost every nook and corner of the city and even on roads leading to the city's famous shrines and religious places.
The sidewalks along Chowk Phuwara, the area under the Elevated Road, Hukam Singh Road, Railway Link Road, Queen's Road, Cooper Road, Hall Bazaar and Putlighar area but a few examples of areas where encroachments can be found. These encroachments are in the form of shop extensions, unauthorised parkings and push carts vending edibles.
Sources attributed the presence of encroachers in these areas to the laxity of MC officials in dealing sternly with the encroachers.
The area under the elevated road is now home to automobile repair shops. A similar scenario prevails at Hukam Singh Road and Railway Link Road, where roadsides double as extensions of mechanics' shops.
Sources said the casualness of the MC towards the issue could be judged from the fact that on the days they conducted anti-encroachment drives, they returned the impounded goods to the encroachers within hours of conducting the drives and against the payment of a paltry sum.
"They should charge a big amount from the encroachers as a fine and hold their belongings for a few days before returning these to them. The encroachers return within hours of removal of encroachments," said Rajwinder Singh, a resident.
"We are aware of the encroachments, but at this moment are busy with the MC elections. We have regularly been conducting anti-encroachment drives and plan to conduct more such drives after we are through with the elections," said municipal commissioner Dharampal Gupta.