Mohali’s public libraries closed for over a year
For more than a year, six libraries under the Mohali municipal corporation located in various green belts of the city, have been closed due to staff shortage. Five of these don’t even have books. Even though MC officials claim they have been shut due to pandemic, they also say that they are waiting for approval of the staff from the state government.
On the other hand, residents say the libraries are not being opened on the pretext of the pandemic, but in reality, there is no staff to maintain them. Around four years back, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) had spent ₹20 lakh on each library and handed it over to MC. In May 2019, MC had made them functional and open to public. But, they have been closed since March last year.
These libraries are in Phases 4, 6, 3B1 and 9; and Sectors 69 and 70. There were around 18 people employed in these libraries on ad-hoc basis, but all of them have been sacked, without being paid their salaries.
MC commissioner Kamal Kumar Garg said one reason for keeping the libraries closed is the pandemic. “Also, we have taken up the matter with state government for approval of recruiting the staff. We are hopeful of opening the libraries in a month’s time.”
The libraries are not well-stocked as the books have been donated by residents and not bought by the civic body. There is also no policy in place for membership or issuing of books. Due to this, students and scholars have limited options and are forced to go to the public libraries in Sectors 17 or 34 in Chandigarh .
Some of them even lack basic facilities such as furniture and drinking water. There are no sign boards to indicate that a building is indeed a library.
MC councillor Sukhdev Singh Patwari, said, “The sad part is, it has been more than one year since the libraries were closed in the name of pandemic. When the state government has opened all schools and colleges, why can’t they open libraries. Even after two years of inauguration, the civic body has not floated tenders for procuring new books. The employees are feeling cheated as they haven’t received salaries and now been sacked. In the Sector 70 library, there are only 1,500 books, which have been donated by residents.”