The last week has been a busy one for the Patiala Municipal Corporation, with the civic body undertaking several developmental activities, arising hope among residents for some development after the city has been witness to a long span of poor civic conditions.
Besides collecting around Rs 8.5 crore of as property tax, a team from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, camped in the city to carry feasibility study to set up a canal-based water treatment project.
However, a team from the chief minister office under chairmanship of VK Bhat, technical advisor to CM Prakash Singh Badal, also visited to take stock of the situation.
Meanwhile, senior deputy mayor Jagdish Rai Chaudhary's reactions against mayor Amarinder Bajaj for not sending an invitation of Bhat's visit also remained the talk of the town.
In an interview session with Hindustan Times, Bajaj provides a reality check of the recent visits and proposals.
The canal based water project is one of the dream projects of Patiala Corporation. When is this project turning out a reality in Patiala?
Before me, no one has actually thought and worked over this project in totality. I generally believe in permanent solutions rather than taking decisions haphazardly. We have already started basic planning, and initiated the process by inviting top hydro-engineers in India to carry out feasibility study for the project. We are hopeful to start the project by March 31, 2015.
Managing the nearly Rs 200 crore fund may be a herculean task for the civic body. Are you confident enough to make arrangements for the required funds for the project?
Though the technical advisors are yet to submit details, including finances needed for the project, I have already put up the file with the chief minister and the deputy chief minister acquainting them of the funds required for the project. Apart from this, we will also go to the World Bank to fetch maximum possible grant, besides approaching the centre government to help us for the same.
Do you think the canal-based water project will solve the problem of water scarcity, and able to cater needs of residents in near future?
First of all, there is no scarcity of water in Patiala city. We are drawing adequate water and what we are supplying is all sufficient to meet the needs of residents. What curtails us is excessive leakage in the water supply pipeline, which has gone of its age.
Following the visit of some experts from CMO, do you think water logging problem should be tamed in near future?
We have discussed and placed all the facts pertaining to severity of water-logging problem before the technical advisor to Punjab chief minister VK Bhat. We are hopeful that the government would come up with some concrete plans which may act as a permanent solution to deal with the problem.
Despite so much criticism, the civic body has been receiving better responses. Will money collected from property tax act as a life saver when it comes to meeting the financial liabilities?
Money makes the mare go. The exuberant response to property tax may turn out as biggest financial support for the Municipal Corporation especially when it comes to giving salaries, and other liabilities, including power bills. We are expecting around Rs 25-30 crore every year as collection from property tax.
There are reports of a rift between you and senior deputy mayor Jagdish Rai Chaudhary, especially after VK Bhat's visit. Is there any difference of opinion?
Though there is no rift, but there are misconceptions and misunderstanding over some issues. Bhat's visit was official and if Chaudhary saab wished, he would have attended the meeting. Even I was not invited by anyone. We didn't invite people; being senior deputy mayor it was his responsibility to be present at that time.