The 'Small Leisure Valley' near Ishmeet Singh Road is an example of why greenery and Ludhiana don't go together. Ten years after the municipal corporation (MC) spent lakhs on creating it, the green belt, stretching from Ishmeet Singh Road to Dugri railway crossing, has gone to seed.
The reason is simple. After MC spent the taxpayers' money on the project, it gave the green signal for a dumping site on the green belt, which also doubles up as a grazing ground for stray cattle.
When the HT team visited the green belt, small children were seen playing and picking up garbage from the heaps. There were fountains, but they did not work. The place was covered with debris of the construction of a four-lane road near the belt.
When contacted, Surinder Kumar, horticulture and landscaping officer, confirmed that the MC had allowed a garbage dump at the site. "But it was only for a small patch of land near the green belt," he said, adding: "It must have spread to a larger area. I will personally visit the site and get the extended dump cleared."
A resident from a nearby colony said things were better earlier. "But no maintenance has made this place a garbage dump," the resident, who did not wish to be named, said.
"No one can think of coming here for morning or evening walks as foul smell makes it difficult to stand here, forget about walking," he added.
Giving explanations for the non-maintenance of the belt, Kumar said: "The construction of the four-lane road is underway that is way the area is uncleared."
Kumar refused to comment on how the stray cattle entered the belt, feeding on wild grasses in the belt. Commenting on why the fountains were installed when there were plans to widen the roads, he said: "This green belt will not survive and fountains will be removed as roads will now be of four-laned. It is not the fault of MC but of the wrong government policies."
He added the shortage of staff was also behind poor maintenance of the green belt.Punjab Pollution Control Board officials refused to comment on the issue when informed about soil and water pollution going on near the green belt, citing that it is 'completely under purview of MC, not PPCB."