HT Special | Life on the periphery: Villages in Panchkula, orderly sectors lie cheek by jowl | punjab$chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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HT Special | Life on the periphery: Villages in Panchkula, orderly sectors lie cheek by jowl

Plush houses of Panchkula surround the remains of several villages here. Both eye the other with disdain. Villagers see the city slickers as forceful occupiers of their land, while the latter work hard to erect boundary walls between the sectors and villages to escape the foul smell of cow dung and the unseemly sight of cattle.

punjab Updated: Apr 03, 2017 11:51 IST
Bhartesh Singh Thakur
The passing of low-hanging high-tension wires just inches above the roofs of house is grave ganger that affects the lives of residents in the area.
The passing of low-hanging high-tension wires just inches above the roofs of house is grave ganger that affects the lives of residents in the area.(Sant Arora/HT Photo)

Plush houses of Panchkula surround the remains of several villages here. Both eye the other with disdain. Villagers see the city slickers as forceful occupiers of their land, while the latter work hard to erect boundary walls between the sectors and villages to escape the foul smell of cow dung and the unseemly sight of cattle. Well manicured parks in sectors and heaps of cow dung in villages only intensify this study in contrast.

At places, the villagers have to contend with open drains. No one knows it better than Pradeep Kumar, a gardener, and his family who live by a village drain carrying waste water in Saketri. “We have shot off applications to various authorities but in vain,” says Karamjeet Kaur, daughter of Pradeep Kumar.

Kumar’s aunt Maya Devi, who lives in an adjacent house, says, “No one is ready to rent our house because of the stench. There are lots of flies and mosquitoes as well.”

Come rains, and the drain spreads even farther. “It stinks the maximum in the morning when sewage is released into it,” says Salochana Devi, daughter-in-law of Maya Devi.

Recently, Pradeep Kumar approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking closure of the drain. The court put the district administration and Municipal Corporation on notice and even called for a personal hearing of the DC.

The court is now studying the sanitation situation in Panchkula as a whole, and will conduct the next hearing in the coming week.

Garbage and cow dung dumped near Sarthak school in Railly village. (Sant Arora/HT Photo)

Saketri starts when the road almost vanishes and cow dung heaps start appearing. However, the streets in the village are lined with paver blocks.

But sanitation is a serious concern. The Saketri government school faces an open dumping ground. A new slum is fast coming up in front of the Manav Colony, which has no roads and street lights but many newly-built constructions.

The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has built a recreational park at the edge of Saketri but Sri Krishana Gaushala, a cowshed, uses it as a dump for heaps of garbage. The cowshed has around 500 cows. “We have no other option. We had asked for land but it was not provided,” shrugs Kamlesh Kumar, who also receives donations at the cowshed.

Garbage dumped at recreational park, built by HUDA, at the edge of Saketri village. (Sant Arora/HT Photo)

Mahadevpur village, famous for its Shiv temple, also suffers from lack of sanitation with piles of garbage on one side and heaps of cow dung on the other. There are around 50 houses in Mahadevpur.

Bhainsa Tibba village is situated along an open drain flowing next to Sector 4 of Mansa Devi Complex (MDC), which boasts one of the highest real estate rates.

This open drain meanders behind Mansa Devi temple before making its way to Sector 5 of MDC and then to Sectors 17 and 18. It is at its worst in front of Bhainsa Tibba where it passes by the Gandhi colony slum, which uses it for open defecation. It has also become a dumping ground for garbage, stagnating water, and wild weeds. One wonders how villagers live by it.

The vacant plot next to the Sham Provision Store in the village is being used for garbage disposal by nearby houses. “We are not the ones who throw waste in the plot. We are the ones who suffer from mosquitoes and flies,” says Kamla Devi, who lives nearby. Besides that, cattle and cow dung are visible here as well.

There is no road to Chowki village from the Ghaggar bridge. Around 15-20 houses fall under a high-tension wire here. “These wires came up after we constructed our houses. We are poor people. We can’t go anywhere else. Any major accident can happen,” complained Gurbax Singh, resident of Chowki.

Nada village sits next to Sector 31, whose residents blame villagers for lack of sanitation, and encroachment on land meant for basic amenities. The residents want a boundary wall to separate the village from the sector.

The roads leading to the village are in a dismal state. The condition of roads in parts of Kundi village adjoining Sector 20, which falls in the mayor’s ward, is no better. There are plenty of cattle and cow dung here too.

Plush houses of Sector 12 surround the Railla village where locals practice dairy farming. But cattle often cross over to the sector. HT found cows tied on the village street at the back of house number 285, along with piles of cow dung.

“Earlier, they used to tie the cattle to our wall. There is so much stink in our backyard that we entertain our guests in the front yard of the house,” grumbles Col Amarjit Singh (retd). He also suggests a high boundary wall to keep the village from intruding into the sector.

Panchkula India Apral 01 2017 Col Amarjit SIngh showing cattle tied close to his house in Railla village Apral 01 ,2017 Photo by Sant Arora Hindustan Times (Sant Arora/HT Photo)

Garbage and cow dung are dumped at the back of Sarthak government school, which faces Railly village.

Budhanpur village facing Sector 16 is another story of neglect. Most of the area is deprived of basic amenities. An open drain running by the village further adds to the filth.

“There are no dustbins here. Water shortage is commonplace. A number of garbage collectors live here. They first collect garbage from houses in sectors and then bring it here so that they sift through it for recyclable material. The open drain also runs by the village. It must be the worst in terms of sanitation in Panchkula,” groused said Harinder Saini, former councillor of Budhanpur.

SHIVA CONNECTION

Mahadevpur village is home to historical Shiv temple where one can see 2-km-long queues on the occasion of Shivratri. Around 1 lakh devotees visit the temple on this day.

As of now, there is a dispute going on between the temple management and the district administration as the government wants to bring the temple under the Shri Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board.

FOUR POLICE STATIONS
  • Mansa Devi Police Station
  • Chandimandir Police Station
  • Sector 20 Police Station
  • Sector 20 Police Station

RESIDENT SPEAK

My husband suffers from asthma. We can’t go anywhere else. We were earlier told that the villagers will be relocated but they are continuing to stay put. The absence of any proper garbage disposal system adds to our problems. Gogi Pujji, wife of Col Amarjit Singh

There are heaps of cow dung everywhere. The sanitation here is very poor. The authorities are paying no heed to requests of those who have to bear the stench. Infrastructure is very poor and roads are deteriorated. Vishal Sharma, who lives in Kundi village on rent

Sanitation is a major issue in Saketri. The focus of the municipal corporation is to clean the sectors and not the villages. There is no sewerage connection here. I wonder how long we have to face the risk of catching a disease. Gursewak Singh, a resident of Saketri

There is a big problem of cattle, cow dung and the large number of tenants in Railla village. Sewerage remains blocked as ten houses have one toilet. There should be a boundary wall between the village and Sector 12. Lily Bawa, area councillor

OFFICIAL TAKE

There has been a shortage of 229 workers for the last two years. Against that we have recruited just 15 now. We can’t say anything to cattle owners in villages. They are rearing them on their own land. The only alternative is to provide space to them for running their dairies. Upinder kaur Walia, Panchkula mayor