Gidderbaha, grappling with almost the same problems faced by all towns as a blocked or choked sewerage system with sewage spilling into low-lying streets and roads, non-functional traffic lights since their installation about 10 years ago on the Malout-Bathinda road, hundreds of stray cattle, dumps of garbage etc, is different than many other towns going to the polls.
Unlike Malout, where locals are not ready to speak up their minds because of 'terror' of the ruling SAD-BJP alliance, Gidderbaha is gearing up for a tough fight between the two major parties.
Anticipating a tough contest, the ruling alliance on Sunday allegedly made all- out efforts to clear the choked sewerage with machines across the railway track to impress the voters. On the other hand, Gidderbaha MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who is also president of the Indian Youth Congress, was trying his best in his office to settle a dispute over candidature in a ward due to some resentment expressed by another group. He is also always busy campaigning for the candidates in different wards.
"Sewerage is blocked most of the time. The municipal committee has now started clearing it. The water had been there on the entire road and in many low-lying streets in the area across the railway line on the north, but the committee has only now engaged many employees and machines to clear the blockages. Most of the sewerage pipes are blocked. During the last term, the local municipal committee did little to permanently solve the problem. Whenever we approached it for a solution of the problems, the MC cited the problem of funds," said a local.
The locals claimed that when it rains, the low-lying areas get flooded with rainwater as sewerage pipes fail to drain it out completely.
The town is also afflicted by garbage dumps at various places in the open. The heaps of garbage were seen near a religious place and on another plot across the railway line. The open garbage dumps are frequently haunted by many stray cattle. The stray cattle, the locals said, are a big problem and want some permanent solution to the problem.
"The stray cattle most of the time become a cause of accidents as they roam about freely on the roads and, in the summer season, most of them can be seen sitting on main roads during night. The accident due to stray cattle have also claimed the lives of many people," said a shopkeeper.
"The town is situated along the Malout-Bathinda road and there are two main cross roads. At one cross road, there are no traffic lights or a roundabout, while on the other, the traffic lights were installed, but have never worked. The road is too busy and all the people coming to the town from the villages across the road have to cross these dangerous points. The traffic lights should be made functional or there should be roundabouts," said another local.
As the small town is divided in two parts by the railway track, the locals also want a railway overbridge. "The people from many other villages and the area across the railway line on the north have to come to the town. But they face a lot of problems crossing the railway track. The vehicular traffic has increased manifold and there is a need for a flyover for the smooth flow of traffic," said Joginder, a youth from the locality.
The fight is between the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress. "We are contesting on 17 wards on party symbol and two wards have been left for PPP and we are supporting each other. Non-development of the town as blocked sewerage, unscientific disposal of garbage and the construction of a flyover are our main issues," says Raja Warring.
The locals claim that the garbage collection from households is good, but nobody cleans the streets. Besides, there is no government college in Gidderbaha, which has been once a stronghold of the chief minister's estranged nephew Manpreet Singh Badal. The constituency was later captured by Raja Warring.