Paris of Haryana: Panchkula’s development held hostage to politics
3 MC chiefs in 4 months: It’s a revolving door for officers in P’kula MC; political slugfest between Cong mayor and BJP MLA has residents furious.punjab Updated: Sep 14, 2017 12:49 IST
For a city that needed stable leadership and all to get together to rebuild, post the August 25 violence by dera followers, things have, in fact slipped, to the other extreme. At a time, residents continue to simmer over the devastation that ravaged the city and want development works to be in full-steam, the so-called ‘Paris of Haryana’ does not even have a commissioner for its civic body. The post is now vacant. Over the past four months, three municipal commissioners have been transferred from here, putting a complete stop on development works, as reflected in potholed roads.
- The city was ranked 211 in the sanitation survey of the centre, much behind ranking of Chandigarh (11) and Mohali (111). A proposal to set up a solid waste processing plant is also gathering dust. The MC is also short-staffed. The lone executive engineer Praveen Singla also went back to his parent PWD office.
Things are so bad that mayor Upinder Kaur Walia has threatened to go an indefinite strike, along with councillors from her party, the Congress, if the MC is not provided an officer, who has the intention of putting the House in order.
Right to life violated, court observation
Things are so bad in the city that in its May order pertaining to the petition of a local resident, the Punjab and Haryana high court observed that continued inconvenience to city residents was akin to a violation of their right to life.
80 files held up; roads a death trap
From bad roads, exposed live wires, no place to dump garbage, you name it and the city will be afflicted from the civic issue. City residents are also not safe from dog bites with the agency hired for sterilising of dogs suspending work. The reason, he was not paid for carrying out 600 sterilisations. What’s worse, 80 files concerning several development works are pending at various approvals due to frequent transfers of the MC commissioner.
Bad roads have meant that Pankaj Masih, a Chandigarh resident, who worked in the city, is battling for life in coma, after meeting with an accident due to a potholed road near the Amartex Chowk.
MC officials booked; do not obey police order
Exposed wires on the electricity pole on Sectors 11-14 road claimed the life of Deepak (16) on June 17. After pressure from family, officials at the Sector-14 police station booked MC officials for negligence and sought a report from the civic body on officials responsible for maintaining street-lights. SHO Suresh Kumar said that despite reminders, MC had yet not submitted any report. “We will take strict action,” he claimed.
Political slugfest behind the neglect
With no civic development work to speak of, the town is going to the dogs and there seems nobody to check it. What started the slide of the town is a matter of debate.
- Sector 12-A to Rajiv Colony via labour chowk and Bell factory
- Bella Vista Chowk to Majri Chowk via dividing road of Sectors 1 and 2
- Dividing roads of Sector 21 and 3, 4 and 5
- Internal roads of Trans-ghaggar Sectors, including 24 and 25
However, the political slugfest between the mayor and the local MLA Gian Chand Gupta, who belong to opposing parties — the Congress and the BJP, has led to the shocking downturn.
The problem began with MC commissioner SS Phulia who once walked out of the meet chaired by mayor due to their differences. Then, the city saw intense fight between commissioner Lalit Siwach and the mayor. Such was the fierceness of the ‘ego clash’ that from July 2017 to date there has been only one effective meeting of the House.
The House is usually supposed to meet once every month.
After his transfer in May this year, Siwach’s successor Shaleen Kumar too ran in to problem with mayor, shooting off a letter to Haryana chief secretary alleging that the mayor threatened him. Shaleen was transferred in August, Meena then was given charge of the corporation, but he too was shifted.
The mayor has accused Gupta of messing up affairs of the civic body through officers posted here, who stalled development work to put her in bad light ahead of next year’s MC elections. Gupta has questioned the mayor’s working style.
‘CM should intervene’
Sector-16 Resident Welfare Association (RWA) president Subhash Papneja said, “Residents do not want to concern themselves politics. We want development. The chief minister should intervene,” he said.