In ‘model’ Punjab village, water supply suspended for non-payment of bill | punjab | Hindustan Times
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In ‘model’ Punjab village, water supply suspended for non-payment of bill

This, when the village was adopted by Bathinda MP and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in 2014 under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (Parliamentarian’s Model Village Scheme) of the NDA regime.

punjab Updated: Oct 10, 2017 11:06 IST
Sarbmeet Singh
Residents filling up an underground storage tank with water from a tanker at Maan village in Muktsar district on Monday.
Residents filling up an underground storage tank with water from a tanker at Maan village in Muktsar district on Monday. (HT Photo)

It’s been a month that residents of Muktsar district’s village Maan are having to depend on private tankers for water supply as the electricity supply to its waterworks has been disconnected by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) over bill arrears of Rs 14 lakh.

This, when the village was adopted by Bathinda MP and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in 2014 under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (Parliamentarian’s Model Village Scheme) of the NDA regime. While many residents are buying supply at Rs 250 for up to 5,000 litres, those from the impoverished Dalit community find it hard to afford even that.

The village doesn’t have even a veterinary hospital or a bank branch, leave aside a dispensary.

Sarpanch Teja Singh, who belongs to Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) that was in power for 10 years before Congress wrested power in the state last March, explained, “The bill arrears have accumulated for years, and the panchayat has been making part payments by collecting money from residents. The monthly bill is around Rs 18,000, but the previous panchayat alone had left us arrears of Rs 8.5 lakh.”

He underlines that it is difficult to pay as the village has no common land from which the panchayat can earn money. “There are about 2,500 voters in the village, yet the panchayat has no land of its own,” he said.

Panchayat secretary Surjit Singh, when contacted, was reluctant to provide information about grants to the village, saying that he had joined only recently. Other officials said the village had got “approximately Rs 65 lakh” during the SAD-BJP regime in the last five years.

When contacted, Bhavneet Sharma, sub-divisional officer of the PSPCL, only said, “The supply has been disconnected due to non-payment of bill.” But that’s not all the trouble the village has.

The village has a senior secondary school with a strength of 205 students but it offers only humanities stream.

The village doesn’t have even a veterinary hospital or a bank branch, leave aside a dispensary.

The condition of the cremation ground and the common pond is also pathetic. The sarpanch blamed the construction contractor for poor condition of the village streets.

The village has a senior secondary school with a strength of 205 students but it offers only humanities stream. Kulwant Singh, the principal, said two posts each of lecturer and master, and one of a peon, are vacant.

“We were expecting grants from the MP and some central schemes, but none of that has happened in three years so far,” said Harmeet Singh, a local farmer whose mother is a former sarpanch.