A far cry from the ‘smart city’ dream project, Ludhiana will prove to be a daunting challenge for incoming municipal corporation commissioner Jaskiran Singh who will assume office next week. A host of unresolved civic issues are crying for attention for far too long now. Outgoing MC commissioner Kanwalpreet Kaur Brar relieved office on Friday and will now take over as the deputy commissioner of Fatehgarh Sahib.
Jaskiran, who has served as deputy commissioner at a number of places and in the local bodies department, is planning to give thrust to flagship projects of the municipal corporation including the smart city project. Ludhiana was named in the first list of cities to developed as a smart city by the government. He also plans to upgrade the infrastructure in the city’s slum areas.
“I will focus on improving the status of basic amenities of areas under the MC. The smart city project will be a priority under which I will assure that different schemes are kickstarted. Provision of potable water in areas where it is unavailable will also be discussed soon after I join next week,” he said.
Political interference and lobbying has been a major deterrent in the functioning of the MC. Jaskiran, however, said, “I will see to it that the MC functions properly. Issues remain everywhere but there is a need to resolve them instead of complicating them further,” he said.
THE BIG FIVE
Smart City Project: It has been 14 months since Ludhiana was accredited smart city status but no project has taken off under it and that will pose a major challenge to the new MC commissioner. The smart city mission was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015, and Ludhiana was selected in the list of the first 20 cities to be developed in January 2016. However, Ludhiana’s smart city project is still hanging fire.
Parking Mafia: A major issue that awaits the new MC commissioner is that of the parking mafia functioning in different parts of the city. As a result, residents are being fleeced on a daily basis. In the past, complaints were lodged against different parking contractors with the MC commissioner, but in vain. The issue was highlighted time and again but the MC officials failed to take appropriate action against the contractors. Most number of complaints were against parking lots on Ferozepur Road.
Encroachments: The menace of encroachment haunts every Ludhiana resident. People even shy away from taking their vehicles to some areas that have a severe encroachment problem. The MC has in the past tried to curb the menace but political pressure was always a deterrent. Chaura Bazaar and Ghumar Mandi areas with severe traffic congestion were tough nuts to crack for the MC. The encroachments in these areas are glaring examples of mismanagement by the civic body.
Buddha Nullah: The MC has utterly failed to tackle the issue of Buddha Nullah, a polluted stream whose water mixes up with the Sutlej River. The issue came into the limelight when the Rajasthan government wrote to Punjab complaining that the river water that later mixed up in Harike Lake was causing cancer in the northern parts of the state. However, the MC has not been able to stop effluents getting into the stream.
Vending Zones: The issue of vending zones for street vendors has remained on papers for years now. The MC had promised that it will create vending zones two years ago, but the project is still hanging fire. The civic body had even asked for a list from councillors of areas where these zones could be formed. Due to a lack of these zones, traffic snarls especially in the evening are caused in many parts of the city as most carts and vendors put their stalls on main roads of the city.