Environment be damned, there’s no stopping paver blocks in Mohali
Despite no recommendations from any expert or a policy in place, the Mohali municipal corporation has gone ahead with laying the interlocking paver blocks in the entire city and spent around ₹45 crore for it in the past two years.
As per the information of the past two years (2018-19), MC had approved 624 developmental agendas, of which 281 pertain to laying of paver blocks only. Surprisingly, 30% of paver blocks were replaced with the old ones which were in good condition. In 2019, though ₹10 crore was allocated for laying the paver blocks, the MC spent ₹25 crore for it.
It was decided around two decades back that paver blocks will be laid only in markets, but presently, these are used on pavements and even in parks.
This despite the fact that the MC has not formed any policy on laying of the blocks in the past over a decade. As such, the blocks are laid as per the whims and fancies of the councillors, who seem to be in a race to get them installed in their wards.
Interlocking concrete blocks do not let water percolate, thereby hitting groundwater recharge, besides completely covering up the green space.
MC superintending engineer Ashwani Chaudhary said, “We lay the pavers after approval from the House. Presently we don’t have any policy in this regard. Councillors send us the request and the same is approved in the House.”
MS Aujla, former director, town planning, local government, Punjab, who is a resident of Mohali, said, “The reckless laying of concrete blocks on roads is not environment-friendly. Certain portion of road berms (of a uniform width all along the road for a better street picture) must be kept and maintained kutcha for greenery as per the environment norms.”
“Small areas of vegetation such as roundabouts and roadside verges can support a range of plants, insects and birds; and intercept, store and filter water reducing risk of flooding and improving water quality in streams/rivers. Urban temperatures are typically 1-2°C higher than the surrounding areas. Urban air pollution consists of tiny particles formed mainly as a result of vehicular and industrial emissions,” he said.
Congress councillor, Kuljeet Singh Bedi said, “It is the duty of the officials to educate councillors about the environmental issues. After the demand from the residents, we lay the pavers. Also, there should be some policy in this regard.”