The Punjab and Haryana high court’s order where it has called for the winding up of the Panchkula MC and the state government to take over its reins has brought the focus on the working of the local body.
In its order, HC called it to be a case for invoking Section 400 of Haryana Municipal Corporation (MC) Act, 1994, for dissolving Panchkula MC as it has failed to discharge its duties.
The Congress dominated Panchkula MC is about to complete its 4 years in office. The first election to the Panchkula civic body were held in 2013 and Congress councillor Upinder Kaur Walia became mayor.
The body members hardly meet to discuss issues. Earlier, it used to meet every 3 months, though one meeting every month is mandatory.
Then differences cropped up between the mayor and commissioner Lalit Siwach and the officials staged a walkout in October 2016 meeting. Since then the house had just met once and that too to pass the budget.
- The garbage dump in Sector 23, Panchkula, has waste reaching above the boundary wall level. As a result on windy days, plastic bags and waste is carried by the wind outside the precincts of the dump
- The residents of nearby sectors are subjected to foul smell, mosquitoes, flies, and smoke, when there is fire in the illegal garbage dump
- No property tax details are available online. There is no mechanism for lodging online complaints regarding deficiencies in the civic services
- Public toilets are poorly maintained
- The civic body has been consistently spending less than what was allotted to it for the development works
SHORTAGE OF STAFF
The primary duty of MC is to maintain roads, parks and sanitation in the city. The roads have been in a shoddy state for most part of the MC tenure while there are various views on sanitation. Besides on every deficiency, the standard alibi of shortage of staff is being given.
The record says that against 8 posts of municipal engineers (MEs), 4 are vacant. Against 9 posts of junior engineers (JEs), there are only 2 regular JEs.
The MC has to pass building plans and check violations in authorised colonies, apart from sectors of Haryana Urban Development Area (HUDA) which covers Kalka, Pinjore, part of Barwala, which comprise a total of 60 villages on the outskirts of Panchkula.
But there is no district town planner (DTP), the posts of two assistant town planners are also lying vacant and there is no architect as well. Against five posts of draftsmen, there is none.
There is no one in building branch, planning branch, Information Technology cell and no one to head enforcement wing. Several times, urban local bodies department has been approached to fill the staff but in vain.
One of the intervenors in the case, advocate Hemant Sarin, resident of Sector 25, submitted before the court that though trans Ghaggar sectors, sectors 23 to 28, also pay property tax but there is a marked difference between civic amenities in the city and these sectors.
The bridge on the Sector 21 side, which connects main city with trans Ghaggar sectors, is pot-holed with the road portion having totally disappeared and street lights on this bridge are out of order.
The other bridge on the Majri Chowk side is a risky proposition, especially at night with not a single street light on it operational.
Several roads, especially internal roads, in trans Ghaggar sectors are in a broken state.
The court was informed through pictures that in several sectors there were no dustbins or receptacles for disposing of waste in market and hence there was littering.
Several parks in many sectors are without dustbins and stray cattle and stray dogs roam freely and are a hazard on the roads. Several incidents of stray dogs biting residents have also added to the woes.
Kalka and Pinjore, which were included in MC limits, remained poorly managed due to shortage of sanitation workers. One can find heaps of garbage at many corners here.
The HC order is against the officials, not councillors. I have written so many letters to MC officials regarding various issues, but in vain. All councillors will become a party and save the MC.
-- Upinder Kaur Walia, Panchkula mayor
The HC has voiced the feelings of the public. Both officials and councillors, especially mayor have to share the blame. The mayor has to make things work in the MC.
-- Gian Chand Gupta, Panchkula MLA