The alleged helplessness of the district administration to take any action has triggered rampant encroachments under the Rama Mandi flyover, which have resulted into the loss of the walkway for pedestrians as well as vehicular movement on service lanes.
In stark violation of the bylaws, permanent encroachments have come up and the whole area under the flyover has turned into a complete market. On the service lane, shops were already situated before the highway was constructed but due to further encroachments leading to reduction in open space, even shopkeepers are failing to have enough customers.
Municipal corporation officials, reportedly, visited the site on the complaints of the area people, interacted with the shopkeepers at the site, nearly six months ago, but failed to initiate any action against the encroachers.
"With the construction of the flyover, the people might have got relief from traffic snarls but what about the condition below it? There is a stark contrast between the well-maintained flyover and what lies beneath it. The encroachments are going unchecked, we have submitted several requests in the past to the municipal corporation authorities but to no result," said Vijay Kumar, a shopkeeper.
The flyover, numbered 23-A, was built on the state highway leading towards Hoshiarpur to pass over the Jalandhar-Amritsar railway line. It was renumbered NH-70 after standardisation of the country's highways. The highway was constructed by the B&R wing of the Public Works Department of Punjab using central grants.
The entire empty area has been encroached upon by meat sellers and some general merchants and the area residents have been surprised over the failure of the administration in taking any action.
"This is all about the vote bank politics. The entire machinery is helpless and the common man is suffering," said Prabdyal Singh, a local shopkeeper.
Area councillor Mandeep Singh Jassal, speaking on the issue, said, "We have reported the matter to the mayor. It is now up to the municipal corporation authorities to make this land free of encroachments."
Mayor Sunil Jyoti, however, passed the buck to officials of the PWD department. "As the flyover is property of PWD, we have written about the violations to the authorities concerned."
Charanjeet Singh Bains, executive engineer at the central works division of PWD at Hoshiarpur, which is custodian of the flyover, when contacted, denied any intimation from the corporation in this regard. "In the last over 18 months, I have not received any communiqué from the corporation. The matter was not in our notice as we are situated far away from the site. I will immediately send my officials to get this land free of encroachers and will also write to the MC officials to ensure that in future, the land should not be encroached upon."