Development is a mirage in CM’s ancestral village Mehraj

On January 29 last year, Capt Amarinder had visited the village and announced development projects worth 28 crore to upgrade infrastructure and basic civic amenities in areas falling under the Mehraj nagar panchayat. Till now the government has released 4.64 crore for the purpose.
In the absence of desilting of sewage lines at Bathinda's Mehraj, ancestral place of Punjab CM, streets in low-lying area overflow with wastewater.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
In the absence of desilting of sewage lines at Bathinda's Mehraj, ancestral place of Punjab CM, streets in low-lying area overflow with wastewater.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)
Published on Mar 17, 2020 10:52 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Bathinda | By Vishal Joshi

MEHRAJ (BATHINDA) Clogged sewerage, no tap water and tattered roads speak volumes of the lack of development at Mehraj — the ancestral village of chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

On January 29 last year, Capt Amarinder had visited the village and announced development projects worth 28 crore to upgrade infrastructure and basic civic amenities in areas falling under the Mehraj nagar panchayat. Till now the government has released 4.64 crore for the purpose.

Sources in the government said the grant was meant for various projects, including restoring water supply, construction and strengthening of road leading to Mehraj and upgrading sewerage network.

Of the 33 project works announced by the CM, two are being executed by water supply and sanitation department; three by Punjabi Mandi Board; 10 by PWD (B&R); five by nagar panchayat; six by IFFCO; three by cooperative society; and four by Punjab health systems corporation.

During a visit to Mehraj, located about 35km from the district headquarters, residents said most of the announcements made by the CM last year are yet to be implemented. The town with a population of 17,000 has two waterworks but both are lying non-functional since 2013.

Former president of the nagar panchayat Harinder Jit Singh said the project to provide safe water was implemented in 2005. “But due to leakage in the supply lines up to the village and poor maintenance, the project was shelved,” he said.

“People are forced to drink tubewell water, which is unsafe . Despite our best efforts, the water supply system has not been restored in the town. Last year, the CM had announced 2 crore for construction of the village secretariat but the local body office continues to run from a two-room structure,” said Harinder, who demitted the office of local body head on March 10.

Paramjit Kaur of ward 7 complained that sewage flowing on to the road is a perennial problem in the village. “As sewerage has not been cleaned for years, streets in various low-lying areas remain inundated with wastewater. Rain makes our lives miserable as water enters our homes,” she said.

A 57-year-old Darshan Singh said CM’s assurance of better roads is still a distant dream. “The 8-km-long stretch connecting Mehraj with Lehra Saunda near the national highway, and 5.45-km distance up to Rampura is in a shambles. Even after announcement by the CM, work has not started,” he said.

The residents also rued the inadequate facilities at the community health centre. According to the information, posts of a gynaecologist, dentist, eye specialist and a surgeon are lying vacant at the CHC. The facility recently got an X-ray machine but there is no radiographer to operate it, sources said.

“During his previous tenure as CM, Capt Amarinder Singh got the CHC constructed. The facility is understaffed for the last more than four years. There is only one medical officer catering to the town’s 17,000 population,” said Balbir Singh, a community leader from Ward 8.

The state government has roped in Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) to execute works totalling 1.52 crore. The cooperative society has renovated a stadium, pond and park in Mehraj. But the IFFCO management has turned down the proposal to buy an ambulance for the CHC. The IFFCO is yet to release funds for the construction of three godowns as announced by the CM.

Bathinda deputy commissioner B Srinivasan admitted that there was delay in road construction as sewerage is yet to be laid in some areas. “A pipeline has been laid up to the waterworks at Mehraj. A survey to provide water connections will start soon. Work to construct a sewage treatment plant is underway and it will be made operational by June 30. Ponds are already being desilted,” said the DC. He said upgrade of two government senior secondary schools and one primary school is near completion.

Chief minister’s media adviser Raveen Thukral said works were in progress and execution of development projects was the duty of Bathinda deputy commissioner. “I have nothing more to comment on behalf of the CM office,” he said.

Intro:

LACKLUSTRE On January 29 last year, Capt Amarinder announced development projects worth 28 crore for better infrastructure and basic amenities; 4.64 crore released, not a single work completed

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Status of key projects

Lehra Saunda-Mehraj road (8.2km)

Work not started

Rampura-Mehra road (5.45km)

Work not started

Construction of modern village secretariat

Work not started

Mobile soil testing lab

50% work completed

Sewage upgrade

50% work completed

Water supply: 8-km pipeline up to Mehraj waterworks augmented. Survey to provide tap water yet to start.

Health: The community helath centre has five sanctioned posts of which four are vacant. It lacks radiographer and lab technician. No ambulance.

Works completed: Renovation of Maharaja Yadvindra stadium, a park and pond. Extension of a purchase centre.

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Monday, October 18, 2021