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Fixing Palam Vihar tough job for Municipal Corporation of Gurugram

. Residents have left the area over the last two years due to bad roads and sewage issues, caused by construction of the Bajghera Flyover, in Gurugram

gurgaon Updated: Sep 26, 2018 11:50 IST
Prayag Arora-Desai
Prayag Arora-Desai
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Palam Vihar,Municipal Corporation of Gurugram,Gurugram
view of abandoned homes in Palam Vihar C Block. Residents have left the area over the last two years due to bad roads and sewage issues, caused by construction of the Bajghera Flyover, in Gurugram, India, on Tuesday, September 25, 2018. (HT Photo)

As the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram prepares for an administrative takeover of Palam Vihar by the month-end, residents of the affluent 633-acre colony finally face prospects of better power supply, an improved drainage system and better roads. At present, they say, these services are in a shambles.

This is visibly true in some areas of the colony. The worst affected region, in terms of infrastructure collapse, is Palam Vihar’s C1 Block – located on a stretch of the Bajghera Road, which cuts through Palam Vihar after the railway crossing at Shri Sanatan Dharam Mandir, leading to Krishna Chowk and then on to Carterpuri village.

Until about two years ago, this road was lined with colourful bungalows and trees, on which one often spotted peacocks. However, the trees have now vanished and the road rendered non-motorable, after the public works department (PWD) started construction of the Bajghera flyover, which will go over the railway crossing and lead to the Dwarka Expressway.

The underlying drainage pipes have also been choked, leaving a perennial stream of sewage water stagnating on the streets. Dust pollution from the flyover construction is also visible in the air.

These circumstances have forced almost all the families living here to move out. “There were originally 30 families residing in about 20 homes in C1. Now, only six of us remain, because we have nowhere else to go,” said Anil Varma, who has been residing here since 1994.

Varma showed the Hindustan Times team one decrepit house after another, adjacent to his own. With residents gone, thieves have started frequenting the areas late at night, he said, stealing everything from window panes to manhole covers. Varma now acts as a watchdog, as the developer has also stopped posting guards in the locality.

When the work on the flyover was started, residents of C-1 Block had approached not only the builder, Ansal Property and Infrastructure, but also the Palam Vihar residents’ association (PVRA), asking them to intervene in the matter. “Neither heard us out,” Varma said.

“It feels like we have been defrauded. The builder led us to believe that the land outside our homes was part of the colony. I found out only in 2016 that it belongs to the PWD,” said Dwarika Rai, Varma’s neighbour.

Now, while they wait for construction of the flyover to finish, Varma and his remaining neighbours have also tried approaching Pro Facilities (ProFac), the company contracted by the PVRA to maintain essential services in Palam Vihar.

“We only asked them to fix the sewerage issue, repair parts of the road so we can take our vehicles out and post security guards. However, since the transfer of colonies to the MCG was announced, they have been extremely reluctant to do this,” said Ashwini Arora, a resident of C1 Block. Pradeep, general manager, ProFac, Palam Vihar, said, “The residents of C1 Block have genuine complaints and I sympathise with them. However, the land belongs to PWD and the area has become unlivable because of the ongoing construction. There is nothing ProFac can do about that.” The remaining 10 blocks of Palam Vihar are a sprawling oasis, isolated from the bustle of surrounding Old Gurgaon. The area is quiet and green, with wide roads, walkable footpaths, and little traffic on the streets. However, infrastructure issues still prevail.

Backflow from the drainage at Bajghera road has had ripple effects throughout the area, choking sewer lines in all of the other blocks. Ashutosh Shelat, a resident of E Block, said that the sewage has been entering a stormwater drain next to his house. “The builder simply went ahead and built the colony without creating any sewage lines,” he said.

Another resident said that he recently spent Rs50,000 on fixing his sewage tank and is expecting to do so again soon because of the poor drainage situation.

This was reiterated by PVRA president Sunil Yadav, who said, “The sewerage lines have been completely choked for the last nine months. We’ve been doing our best to fix it and will continue to work with the MCG to ensure that sewerage and stormwater drains are restored, kept separate and water flows out.”

In addition to sewerage, Palam Vihar also faces issues of maintaining green spaces. Multiples residents in E and F Blocks alleged that the builder had been carving out additional plots of land from areas which, according to the Haryana Development of Urban Areas Act, 1975, are required to be maintained as green belts.

Jatin Gupta, a resident, pointed out multiple such plots, that are now occupied by schools or commercial complexes. “I don’t understand how these have been built or how the department of town and country planning has ratified them,” he said. “These green areas were marked in the original zoning plan, but the developer keeps changing the zoning plan to include more built-up structures, despite the law,” said Gupta.

Abhishek Aggarwal, senior vice-president, Ansal API, said, “We have not sold any green area without first having them ratified according to the law by the district town and country planning department. As for the sewage, we built the system as per the by-laws, keeping in mind the population density of the colony. The reason for choking is sewage overflow from unauthorised colonies around Palam Vihar and the population boom that the Urban Local Bodies has not been able to keep in check.”

These issues are just some of the challenges faced by the MCG, which will soon become the custodian of Palam Vihar.

Yashpal Yadav, MCG commissioner, said that these issues will be tackled by hiring private contractors to fix them. “We have submitted estimates of the budget to the government for approval and the tenders will be floated by the end of the month,” he said.

Residents are, however, sceptical. “We read about the incompetence of the MCG in the news every day,” said Varma.

“The MCG has not been able to fix drainage systems or maintain green spaces across Gurugram. We have no hope that the MCG will be able to fix the issues of roads, green spaces and sewerage problems in Palam Vihar, which have only worsened over the last two years,” said Rai.

First Published: Sep 26, 2018 04:38 IST