The royal city is portrayed at its ugliest through its parks, where, instead of walkers and children playing on swings, one can usually see grazing cows, heaps of garbage, parked cars, makeshift eating joints, and dogs attacking people.
Residents allege that the apathetic attitude of the municipal corporation (MC) has led to encroachments in parks, which are in a deplorable state.
A survey conducted by HT revealed that out of 298 parks which are in the civic body's jurisdiction, 20 are allegedly fully encroached, while 71 are partially encroached.
However, when the authorities were approached with the data, they claimed that they were aware of the existence of only 105 parks.
Landscape officer Dalip Kumar said that the department was short of staff, and only 40 gardeners were available for maintenance of 105 parks, of which six were working as guards of the park.
Blaming the locals, he said, "The encroachments were done a couple of years back, so removing them now is a difficult task. The residents themselves are responsible for the ill-maintenance of the parks as they litter the place and damage the property. "
Adding that the rose garden next to the bus stand had become a hub of anti-social persons, who could be spotted resting there at night, he alleged that the police had taken no action despite repeated complaints.
While the MC claims that the rose garden was one of the best-maintained parks in the city, a visit to the park presents a totally different reality, as the fountains, benches, lights, tiles and dustbins are all visibly damaged.
Parks in several other areas, including New Rajpura Colony, Sewak Colony, Model Town, Lower Mall Road, Bhupindra Road, Arya Samaj, Sirhind Road, Rajpura Road, Nabha Road, Passey Road and Hargobind Nagar, also flaunted a shabby look on account of encroachments and lack of maintenance. Pratap Nagar residents alleged that unscrupulous elements had constructed shops at Shaheed Bhagat Singh Park.
"We cannot take our children to the park because of the presence of stray dogs. Besides, there is hardly any space to walk as the park has been encroached on by a dhaba owner, while parts of it have become a parking lot," said Darshan Singh, who resides near Gurdwara Dukhnivaran Sahib.
Municipal commissioner PS Gill said, "We will take necessary action after identifying the parks and seeing the nature of encroachments."