Split verdict on Raj Bala Malik's success as city mayor | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Split verdict on Raj Bala Malik's success as city mayor

With city mayor Raj Bala Malik's tenure coming to an end on December 31, Principal Correspondent Hillary Victor analyses her performance. Despite her best intentions, she could not bring about much positive change in the City Beautiful. While some of her initiatives were praised, most of them did not yield any result.

chandigarh Updated: Dec 17, 2012 10:41 IST
Hillary Victor

City mayor Raj Bala Malik might be pleased with her efforts as she has been credited for widening and beautification of the Vigyan Path. Commencing the work of an overbridge in Sector 17 has also won her praise.

According to her party, she has passed her test with flying colours. But if the opposition's yardstick is adopted to assess her work, she might not even attain passing marks. Be it the basic issues of sanitation and water supply or the menace of stray dogs, Malik has not won any brownie points in their management from the councillors. Controversy too dogged her tenure. Abolishing free parking stickers and scrapping of pilot project in Sector 22 have landed her in some mess.


Multi-level parking in Sector 17
The project of multi-level parking in Sector 17 at the existing Gurdev parking lot, which was hanging fire from the past two years, finally got a nod this year. The multi-level parking lot will provide some respite to parking woes, as the said parking will accommodate 950 vehicles. The civic body has allotted the work to a company, but it is yet to start as the MC is waiting for environment clearance.

Widening, beautification of Vigyan Path
The MC proposed the widening and beautification of Vigyan Path (from Punjab Raj Bhawan to PEC University) in March 2007. This year, the MC completed the land survey of four-kilometre road. Even estimates are ready and the work is likely to begin in January. The project includes pedestrian path on either side of the Vigyan Path, benches and landscapes on both sides.

Work of overbridge begins in Sector 17
The construction work of second overbridge in Sector 17 began in March this year. The overbridge will be constructed from Anand Theatre to KC Theatre in Sector 17 with an estimated cost of Rs 20 crore. It will have the facilities of 40 booths, two toilets each for men and women at each end on the ground floor. Two lifts, having the capacity of 13 persons each and offices on the second and third floor etc.

Primary school in Sector 49
The construction work of primary school in Sector 49 will begin next month as the MC has already floated tenders for the same. The school will have a four-storey building with 27 classrooms in addition to other facilities.


Over free parking passes
The mayor was in controversy over the distribution of 406 free parking passes under various categories. The issue rocked the MC House on May 30, forcing the mayor to cancel all free passes. The mayor was only entitled for five passes, whereas she got issued 406 free passes. The issue came to the light after BJP councillor Arun Sood raised the issue in a meeting held in April.

Pilot project scarped
The pilot project of door-to-door garbage collection in Sector 22 was scrapped on May 7, after the MC accepted the demands of private garbage collectors, who were protesting against it. On April 23, after the directions of Punjab and Haryana high court, the municipal corporation of Chandigarh started door-to-door garbage collection in Sector 22, but the protest forced the authorities concerned to scrap the project.

Residents faced acute water shortage
This summer, residents were found at the receiving end over acute shortage of water. The residents of most sectors, who reside on first and second floors, were at the receiving end as they did not get supply for several days continuously during summer. Even the overhead tanks were lying empty. Some of the sectors which are worst affected with low water pressure were Sectors 1 to 12, 15, 22, 27, 28, 31, 32, 34, 35, 44, 45, 46 and 48 to 51.

MC scores zero in primary tests
Under the leadership of mayor Raj Bala Malik, the MC scored zero for maintaining primary schools and dispensaries which function under it. The expenditure statement of the municipal corporation tells a lot about it. Of Rs10 crore allotted to each department in April, the MC has only spent Rs 19 lakh on the renovation of one primary school in Manimajra in the past one year. Call it lack of awareness or indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned, the MC has not even formed a sub-committee to deal with dispensaries and primary schools, nearly a year after the new House was formed.


Diarrhoea outbreak at Vikas Nagar
It was during the tenure of Raj Bala that 1,000 cases of diarrhoea were reported and eight persons lost their lives at Vikas Nagar in Mauli Jagran. Though the area councillor raised the issue of supply of contaminated water several times before the outbreak, the MC House did not pay heed to it. In the first week of July, eight persons, including children, lost their lives. The mayor even failed to get conducted a drive for removing 1,200 hand pumps in the area.

Officials walkout from MC House
In an unprecedented move, the officials of the civic body present in the House walked out of a monthly meeting in September. They staged the walkout after the councillors demanded that criminal case to registered against officials concerned for defunct and installation of substandard chlorinators. The councillors had also alleged that they do not have faith in MC officials for any probe. The mayor failed to pacify the officials and finally, the matter reached the UT adviser, who sorted it out after 10 days.

Though the MC House has approved and even got approval for several projects, it failed to start the work. One such project is modernisation of "dhobi ghats" in Sectors 7, 15, 19, 20, 22, 27 and 32, though the MC had approved a budget of Rs 150 lakh. Renovation of two cremation grounds and installation of LPG cremation furnace and carcasses utilisation centre are also being included in the budget for the past three years, but the mayor did not take any initiative to commence the said projects this year.

Nominated councillor MP Kohli said, "It is very unfortunate that in the past one year no development work has taken place. The residents are deprived of basic amenities and for the first time in the city's history residents faced acute shortage of water and sanitation of the town suffered the most. She remained busy in inaugurations of green belts and parks only."

Former mayor and Congress councillor Pardeep Chhabra said, "The mayor has left no stone unturned in serving the city in the past one year. She has got several projects approved in her tenure, which were hanging fire from the past several years. Moreover, one year is a very less time for any mayor for initiating any new project or complete the pending ones."

BSP councillor Naresh Kumar said, "The mayor is trying her level best in getting the work done, but the officers concerned are good for nothing. She keeps directing officials for work, but they pay no heed to her directions. However, she failed to fix the responsibility of officers in various issues."

Former mayor and SAD-BJP councillor Harjinder Kaur said, "For the first time in the history of city, the residents are deprived of basic amenities. This summer residents faced acute shortage of water and sanitation condition had gone worst in city. The cooperation between the councillors and the UT administration too has deteriorated."