Nobody’s baby: Authorities wash hands of 5 parks at Dera Bassi and Zirakpur, developed at a cost of Rs3 crore
Five years back Rs 3 crore was spent by the municipal councils of Dera Bassi, Zirakpur and the Greater Municipal Area Development Authority (GMADA) on five environment cum nature parks developed by the forest department, but today these are all but ruined due to neglect and apathy.
Shockingly, local bodies are not releasing funds to the forest department for the parks as there is absolutely no clarity on which body has to maintain them.
According to the forest department, a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the municipal councils (MC) of both Zirakpur and Dera Bassi and the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) to provide funds for maintenance.
No money has been released as yet, department officials say.
“We have signed an agreement with all the three bodies that they will give us the funds for maintenance, but despite writing several letters and sending reminders, we have not got anything. We are still managing maintenance work with help of NGOs and other resources,” said Guramanpreet Singh, divisional forest officer, Mohali.
Not aware of agreement
Commenting on the matter, Dera Bassi MC executive officer (EO) Jagjit Singh said he was not aware of any agreement with the forest department.
Similarly, the EO of Zirakpur MC, Sandeep Tewari, said he could not locate any file of agreement with the department.
However, he admitted that the parks were in a bad shape.
All five parks were developed on around 80 acres of forest land at Bir Dandrala, Bag Rahatwala and Mauja Madhopur in Dera Bassi and at Peer Muchhalla and Bhabat in Zirakpur.
At Peer Muchhalla, GMADA spent around Rs 1.5 crore; for three Dera Bassi parks, the MC spent around Rs 2 crore and for the Bhabat Park MC Zirakpur spent about Rs 1 crore.
As work began on the properties, species of trees, herbs and shrubs were planted enthusiastically and tracks laid out for walkers and joggers. Shelters, solar lights, benches, bird houses, parking lots and makeshift toilets were also added.
Infrastructure in a shambles
Now, however, most of the lights don’t work. The benches are broken and weeds have overtaken most areas.
Locals also allege that antisocial elements find the parks a safe haven.
Sukhdev Choudhary, president, joint action committee, Residents’ Welfare Association Zirakpur said it was sad that authorities were not aware of the agreement with the forest department. “These parks have become a safe haven for drug peddlers for the past couple of years. We have even given a memorandum to SDM, Dera Bassi, but nothing has happened so far,” he said.