HT Clean My Chandigarh Campaign | Markets need a clean sweep | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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HT Clean My Chandigarh Campaign | Markets need a clean sweep

The popular hotspots of the city have gone from spanking clean to grubby as safai workers take it easy and bins fail to keep pace with the rising number of visitors

punjab Updated: Jun 07, 2017 17:35 IST
Aneesha Bedi and Tanbir Dhaliwal
Food from restaurants in the Sector 35 C market often finds its way to the parking lots as MC safai workers look the other way.
Food from restaurants in the Sector 35 C market often finds its way to the parking lots as MC safai workers look the other way.(HT Photo)

Even though Chandigarh was hoping to bag the “cleanest city in India” title under the Swachh Survekshan - 2017, the municipal corporation (MC) did precious little to tidy up even its most popular markets. The HT team visited some of these shopping hubs, only to find them wearing an air of neglect. The iconic Sector 17, once considered the heartbeat of the city, looks grimy and unkempt even though it’s a stone’s throw away from the MC office. The Sector 22 market, the first to come up in the city, and its Sector 35 cousin, the youngest kid on the block, are in a better state of cleanliness than Sector 17, but they have their own set of problems.

What is more upsetting is the visible rise in the tribe of litter bugs. Chandigarhians, once known for their strong civic sense, seem to have lost it if the number of wrappers strewn around these markets was any indication. Market associations attribute the dip in ranking to both the municipal body as well as lack of civil sense.

THE HEARTBEAT

The Sector 17 Plaza presents a dismal picture with garbage piled up along the pavement and parking lots. A pile of garbage greets visitors at the entry to the Sector 17 Plaza from the parking lot situated just 50 metres from the MC building. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillors, soon after making a clean sweep of the MC elections, had promised to take forward the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and make Chandigarh beautiful and squeaky clean. But the condition of the Sector 17 market belies their claim.

The area around the bridge market seems to be part of some dusty town in the interiors of India with piles of wrappers, leftovers, and even construction material.

Given that the plaza receives a healthy footfall of around 10,000 to 20,000 people on any given day, there aren’t enough bins in the market. The ones that do exist are generally overflowing with garbage.

The governor of Punjab and Haryana and UT administrator VP Singh Badnore had taken a strong note of poor cleanliness in Sector 17 earlier this year but to no avail. Shopkeepers claim that less than half the number of sweepers deputed for the plaza actually report for duty.

Littering by visitors, they grouse, is a growing problem. Santosh, 45, a visitor from Mohali, says she often sees people throwing garbage right next to the bins. Civic sense, she adds, has to come from within.

The areas near the Neelam Theatre, the bank square, and the entrance to the deputy commissioner’s office can arguably be considered among the least clean spots in the Sector 17 market. The pavement towards the left of the English Book Shop is a close second with piles of garbage bags.

However, the main centre of the plaza near the fountain appears cleaner than before.

THE FOOD JUNCTION

The Sector 35 C market has over the years emerged as a favourite hangout of the foodies. Dotted with some of the biggest franchises and other local restaurants that are crowd-pullers, the market has managed to maintain a certain standard of cleanliness.

But while the sector seems to be relatively clean on the face, a look at its backyard tells a different story. While most of the restaurants are careful to keep the frontage spanking clean, the service road at the back is downright filthy with piles of garbage and leftovers.

Besides, the market also lacks adequate number of dustbins.

Sheaba Koachar, a housewife, cautioned, “Even though it is one of the cleaner markets, I feel more dustbins should be placed here. A lot of people travelling to hill stations stop by at this market, we shouldn’t let our image be sullied for want of cleanliness.”

The furniture market in Sector 34 went without a broom for a fortnight in May when sanitation workers struck work. (HT Photo)

FOR FURNITURE

A visit to Sector 34 furniture market is all you need to find out why Chandigarh slipped from the second rank in 2016 to the 11th in 2017. When this correspondent visited the market on May 31, she was told that no one had cleaned it for the last 15 days. It was evident from the piles of garbage strewn all around.

We saw at least 20 heaps in just one block of this small market. It was impossible to pass by the overflowing bins placed by MC, which emitted a foul smell.

There is nothing spick and span about the market with shopkeepers encroaching upon the corridors. Sofas, chairs and tables are placed haphazardly everywhere making it difficult to wend your way through the market.

Hazara Singh, president of the Market Committee Association, Sector 34, blamed the inefficient MC for the grimy state of the market. “The sweepers have not cleaned the market for several days now. They are on strike. For weeks, nobody has come to empty the dustbins placed inside the market. The stench makes it difficult for us to even sit inside our shops.”

The corridors of the neighbouring general market of Sector 34 were comparatively clean but the parking areas had plenty of filth. While shopkeepers had taken care to sweep the areas around their premises, it seemed the public spaces hadn’t seen a broom for a long time.

The Sector 22 Shastri market in a relatively clean avatar. (HT Photo)

FLEA MARKET

The Sector 22 Shastri market is a big hit with people looking for bargains. From clothes, shoes and accessories to groceries and furnishings, the market has something for everyone.

No wonder it sees hundreds of shoppers every day. But despite being overcrowded, the market looks cleaner than the Sector 34 market.

Although we didn’t see them in action, the market is infested with rodents, which do their damage at night. The main issue faced by the sector is of encroachment. While corridors have been taken over by shopkeepers, the parking areas are occupied by vendors. It makes parking a chaotic affair, and there is hardly any place left for the free movement of people inside the market.