UT mayor Poonam Sharma packed a punch in her tenure

  • Hillary Victor, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 10, 2015 13:22 IST
Mayor Poonam Sharma driving a tractor during a cleanliness drive at Maloya village; (right) slapping a drunk man for abusing her in Manimajra. (Ravi Kumar/HT Photo)

Mayor Poonam Sharma’s vigilante acts have earned her both bouquets and brickbats. As her tenure comes to an end on December 31, the 53-year-old is leaving behind sort of a sadistic legacy — a path none of her predecessors treaded.

During her term, she carried out surprise raids at gambling dens and slapped the accused with impetuosity. A few months before, she whacked the husband of a woman after he showed up drunk following the death of their child in a dog attack in full public view. Now questions are being asked whether she is a cop or a headmistress.

Setting such a negative trend, they say, is not a good sign. “How can you take the law into your own hands? You are no better than a criminal even though you are not using heavy force,” say those who criticise her.

But then Sharma has her admirers too. Resident’s welfare associations have praised her for teaching a lesson to goons. “This is the only way to deal with such people. They will never stop their misdeeds unless the authorities show some spine and crack the whip on them,” say residents.

According to her party, she has passed the test with flying colours. But, if the opposition yardstick is adopted to asses her work, she might not even attain the passing marks - be it the basic issues of sanitation and water supply, or the menace of stray dogs, Sharma has not won any brownie points from councillors.

Controversy, too, has dogged her tenure. She was accused of construction at a commercial building owned by her in Attawa without getting a building plan approval from the civic body, giving the BJP ammunition to target her in House meeting.

President of Sector Development and Residents Welfare Association, Sector 38, Major DP Singh (retd), said what else you could expect from the mayor? “She did commendable work and remained active throughout the year. As far as slapping incidents are concerned, she did the right thing as the police failed to do the same, and she has set an example,” said Singh.

But, city-based advocate Vijay Dahiya said, “Slapping is no way to deal with menace. She has set up a negative trend, which is not a good sign. She is lucky that nobody has taken cognisance, otherwise, she could have been in trouble.”

BJP councillor Satinder Singh said, “Her aim was not development, but to hog limelight and remain in the media. She drove a tractor to level a park in her ward, which can’t be called development, but mere publicity. She failed to deliver and could not sort out the issues that matters the most.”

On the other hand, former Congress mayor Subhash Chawla said, “The mayor tried her level best to address issues. In most House meetings, opposition councillors wasted time on unimportant issues, which hindered the development work. The relationship between the MC and the UT improved to a great extent during her tenure.”

Major projects undertaken

Zero tolerance on corruption: Posters were put up at all public offices of the civic body, asking people to pay bribe to officials who ask for it, but, at the same time, record the conversation to bring the guilty official to book.

Initiative to address water woes in city: To tackle water shortage — the issue hanging fire for the past eight years — the MC took up the matter with the UT and funds worth Rs 98 crore were released to Punjab for Phase 5 and 6 of the Kajauli water works. The city will get 40MGD extra water from April.

Online grievance system improved: To improve functioning of the MC’s online grievance management system, a feature has been added wherein people can rate the redressal of their complaints on a scale of one to five.

24X7 water supply at Mauli Jagran: In July, the MC started 24x7 water supply in Mauli Jagran. The concept was adopted after a national meet on round-the-clock water supply in Ahmedabad. Even afternoon water supply was also started at the Industrial Area, Phase 2.

Tenure marred by controversies

* Accused of constructing a commercial building without the MC approval

* Despite the orders of a probe in an illegal hoarding case, she didn’t take any action

* In a House meet on November 30, the mayor hits a now low by having a verbal spat with BJP councillor Arun Sood.

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