Chandigarh MC polls: Garbage takes centre stage as campaigning nears end

Among inflation, water tariff hike, taxes and corruption, it is Chandigarh’s garbage problems on which all parties are gunning against each other the hardest
Both the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP have promised to completely clear the Dadumajra garbage dump in Chandigarh. (HT File Photo)
Both the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP have promised to completely clear the Dadumajra garbage dump in Chandigarh. (HT File Photo)
Published on Dec 21, 2021 04:19 AM IST
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By, Chandigarh

Garbage collection and waste-processing problems have emerged as the main civic poll issue as the election campaign nears its end on 5pm, December 21.

The city goes to poll on December 24.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress are also raking up other issues like inflation, water tariff hike, taxes and corruption, and BJP’s main poll plank is “development”, but it is the city’s garbage problems on which all three are gunning against each other the hardest.

Garbage management also prominently appears in the manifestoes of the parties. Both the Congress and the AAP are promising to make “Chandigarh No.1” again, while the BJP is assuring complete removal of garbage from the Dadumajra dumping ground and even promising collection of waste from all floors.

From the “illegalities” in the setting up of the solid waste processing plant in Sector 25 to repeated fires at the Dadumajra dumping site to “highly expensive” contract for clearing the towering legacy waste, all have become campaign talking points for the parties.

Poor show in cleanliness survey

Just a month back, the city had fared poorly in the Swachh Survekshan national rankings 2021 due to poor waste collection and disposal system. The City Beautiful slipped to 66th position in the country on the cleanliness front.

Announced so close to the impending Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) elections, the rankings had immediately triggered slugfest between the Congress and the BJP.

The Congress castigated the BJP for its six years of “inaction” on the issue, worsening the problem manifold. The BJP in turn asserted the problem as the legacy of Congress’ “misrule and corrupt decision-making”.

The AAP, though hammering both rival parties for the garbage dump mess, itself has been getting cornered by the Congress and the BJP for its own “failure” to clean-up garbage “mountains” in Delhi, where AAP has been in power for nearly six years.

All guns blazing

Under attack from both the AAP and the BJP, the Congress raised the stakes on the garbage issue after it held a press conference at the dumping site on December 18.

Former MP Pawan Kumar Bansal and AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala addressed the media with the Dadumajra garbage dump in the background.

“If there was no exit clause, how did MC take over the plant. If the running of plant by the private company was so bad, why the BJP-ruled MC didn’t serve it any notice in all these years,” questioned the Congress leaders.

The AAP, too, had failed in Delhi on the garbage management front, contended Congress leaders, so how could they solve it here.

Solving the city’s garbage problem was the first promise the AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal made at his campaign rally in Sector 43 on December 19. “We will make Chandigarh No. 1 city in Asia,” he assured.

BJP leaders have maintained that Congress signed the agreement with the firm to set up the solid waste processing plant without an “exit clause” and with “poor technology”. Defending itself, BJP claims it is nearing a solution to both the legacy waste problem and upgrade of the solid waste processing plant, as nearly half of the legacy waste has been removed and remaining work has been sped up.

Garbage management prominently appears in the manifestoes of the parties. (HT)
Garbage management prominently appears in the manifestoes of the parties. (HT)

Congress set up a dysfunctional solid waste processing plant: AAP

Chandigarh The chairman of Aam Aadmi Party’s election campaign committee, Chander Mukhi Sharma, on Monday blamed the Congress for setting up a “dysfunctional” solid waste processing plant in Sector 25.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Sharma alleged that former member of Parliament (MP) Pawan Kumar Bansal batted for a private firm for establishing the solid waste processing plant during an MC debate. “Later, the contract was given to the same firm,” said Sharma, while quoting minutes of the MC House debate, when the statement was allegedly made.

HT couldn’t verify the authenticity of the documents.

The controversial solid waste processing plant was taken over by MC in 2020 over the firm’s failure to perform and violation of contract terms.

Sharma claimed that an inquiry committee headed by him had found that the firm did not install machines it promised for the project under its detailed project report (DPR). “This was the reason that the firm couldn’t process the promised quantity of garbage,” he said.

The committee was constituted in 2009 to examine the setting up of the plant and its working.

Sharma also attacked the BJP for not acting on the findings of the inquiry committee. “They are only exploiting the issue now for their aggrandisement and didn’t act on it for the last six years when they were in power,” said Sharma.

Bansal couldn’t be contacted for his comments.

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