In battle between park and parking lot, Gurdaspur loses both

  • Kamaljit Singh Kamal, Hindustan Times, Gurdaspur
  • Updated: Sep 03, 2014 23:40 IST

The tussle between the local legislator and social organisations over turning it into a car parking lot killed and buried Nehru Park, which was older than a century.

Local legislator Gurbachan Singh Babbehali wanted a parking lot adjoining Sadar Bazar, town's busiest business centre, as a good facility for shoppers. "Being on the national highway as well, the park is the most suited location for this project," said the MLA (member of the legislative assembly). Social and political organisations, however, didn't want to lose the central place where they walk, did exercise, and held rallies, meetings, and functions.

The park is easy to approach from each corner of the town. Also, the offices of the deputy commissioner and senior superintendent of police, where the demonstrators submit memorandums, are nearby. People who can't afford to hire indoor places and restaurants hold their family weddings and social get-togethers inside the park.

On September 17, 2012, local MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Babbehali laid the foundation stone of the project to turn the park, also called Sukka Talaw (dry pond), into a parking lot. Later, Sukka Talaw Bachao Sangharsh Committee filed a writ petition against it in the Punjab and Haryana high court, forcing Gurdaspur Municipal Council to drop the project.

The committee submitted that the transformation would violate the Punjab Urban and Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) rules. On April 25, MC executive officer Brij Mohan Tripathi wrote to committee convener Sukhwinder Singh Kahlon that the project was off in the wake of the protest but it would have been to the betterment of general public.

The local trade unions of farmers, labourers, and employees had risen against the project, telling the MC to keep the park as it was; and make the parking lot at the old zila parishad office nearby. For the project, several trees were felled; and the park, which was several feet lower than the ground level, was filled with earth. As work was called off midway, the place is not like before.

The buried place now is deserted. A Pakistani Patton tank captured in the 1965 war and put on display at the park is half sunk in the softened ground, like a tombstone. Now the people of Gurdaspur have neither a park nor a parking lot.

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