The villages around the periphery of Chandigarh are beset by problems that come with modernisation: traffic jams, pockmarked roads, irregular water supply and poor sanitation.
Gharuan village has the proud privilege of being home to Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, who was born here, but this distinction has done nothing to improve its condition.
The village has more than 15,000 residents, including foreign nationals, staying as paying guests. But the gram panchayat as well as the administration has failed to upgrade its infrastructure though the village does have all the basic amenities.
The village has a school, dispensary as well as a private university that has about 10,000 students whose vehicles lead to traffic chaos in the absence of vehicular management in the area. The village is well connected and roads are developed but there is poor maintenance”, rues Maninder Singh, a resident of the village.
The village has a pond of historical importance called Pandav jheel, which is surrounded by temples. Lore has it that it was dug by Bheem who named this pond after his son Gharuka, from whom the village gets its name Gharuan. The villagers claim that the Pandavas spent their exile here, and Bheem’s son Ghatotkach too was born here.
“The Pandav jheel (pond), which has religious significance, is maintained by the panchayat but due to lack of planning all the drains of the village carrying waste fall into this pond. The administration needs to pitch in to save the pond,” says Sukjinder Kaur, a resident.
The 2000-odd students, including foreign nationals, staying as paying guests in the village have raised the living standards of the people but their surroundings remain unchanged. Rupinder Singh, a villager, complained that the village does not have an effective drainage system. “Nor is there a stadium to encourage youths to pursue sports. There is one stadium, but since it is not well maintained, it is being misused by anti-social elements and drug addicts”.
Interestingly, a handful of villagers also complained of drugs in the area, saying that youngsters are getting addicted to intoxicants. However, no one was willing to come on record.
POOR TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT AT GHARUAN
Gharuan has a private university that sees an influx of around 10,000 students, who travel to the university on a single lane road every day. With no efforts to widen the road, inadequate patrolling, and absence of signages highlighting the speed limit, this road is fast turning into a killer stretch.
“The village roads are wide as compared to other villages but there are pot holes galore, and no repairs have been done,” rues Rupinder Singh, a resident of the village. That it witnesses a city-like traffic only worsens its condition.
“More and more buses flood the village roads in the quest of growing number of passengers. And often, they drive rashly. Overloaded auto-rickshaws too are a common sight,” complains Satwinder Kaur, a shopkeeper in Gharuan village.
Gharuan’s lone police post is unable to regulate the growing traffic and lawlessness.
AT JHANJERI, BASIC AMENITIES MISSING
A 20-minute drive from SAS Nagar, the Jhanjeri village on Sirhind road has all the basic amenities such as drinking water and pucca roads. But of late, 20 of the 700 houses in the village have been getting irregular supply of water though they have been receiving the water bills on time.
“There are two water tanks that supply water to the village, but after a few days part of the village stops getting water. These 20-odd houses have been getting erratic water supply. Often, there are complaints that a part of the village gets uninterrupted supply of drinking water, while the other goes without water for days. When we complain, the water supply gets restored for two to three days, but soon it stops,” grumbles Rustum Ali, a resident of the village who works as a security guard. While most houses have hand pumps for their daily chores, the irregular supply of water irks.
“The village does have facilities like a senior secondary school and gym for the youngsters but it lacks proper sanitation. There are areas where you can see stagnant water that becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” complains Madan, a resident of the village.
LANDRAN T-POINT CHOKES, ADMINISTRATION MUM
With the increase in vehicles crossing the Landran T point, traffic jams are a regular feature and during the peak hours it takes about 30 minutes to cover a distance of 1.5 kilometres. Though now the traffic police have been deployed to regulate the vehicular flow at this T point, the narrow road with large potholes and vehicles forming more than three lanes add to the woes of daily commuters.
“The traffic flow has increased, especially with the shifting of the courts and district administrative complex to Sector 76, SAS Nagar,” complains Jaspal Singh, who is employed at the judicial complex.
Jaswinder Singh, who runs a shop at the Landran T point, says though the administration had proposed a flyover, nothing was done owing to protests and litigation by farmers. “Even the widening of the road has been pending for long, but the administration is sitting pretty,” complains Singh.
With virtually no street lights, huge potholes and herds of cattle reared by villagers for milk sitting on the road, driving on this road is definitely a test of patience.
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