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Chandigarh’s Sector 50-51: Forging friendships under the Kikkar trees

Kikkar Park is the centre of attraction in Sector 50. Around 20 years ago, the land here was lined with Kikkar trees. While most of them were felled to build flats, a small patch was left untouched. Today it’s the famous Kikkar Park of the Chandigarh’s south.

punjab Updated: Sep 05, 2018 15:32 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
Saurabh Chauhan
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,Kikkar trees,Chandigarh’s Sector 50-51
Residents of these sparsely populated sectors enjoy living in a closely-knit community, where most people know each other by their first names.(HT Photo)

An ‘apasdari’ meeting. It’s not a phrase you may have heard in the City Beautiful. But visit one of the rather young sectors of 50 and 51, and chances are that you will be invited to one such meeting. With no distractions such as bustling markets or cinema halls, residents of the housing societies set great store by these regular get-togethers and their fledgling parks.

A walk in the Park

Kikkar Park is the centre of attraction in Sector 50. Around 20 years ago, the land here was lined with Kikkar trees. While most of them were felled to build flats, a small patch was left untouched. Today it’s the famous Kikkar Park of the Chandigarh’s south. “We wait for the Kikkar flower. It is one of the main attractions of this newly-born sector,” says Sushmita Bhardwaj, a resident of BJ Apartments. D S Sandhu, an octogenarian who was out for his daily constitutional in the park, said, “We bought a flat here in 2010. Since then I have been living here. These Kikkar trees are old like me. I really relish walking here especially when these are in full bloom.” Also called thorn trees or babool in Hindi, these trees have pretty sunshine yellow flowers nestled between the delicate leaves and unforgiving thorns.

Once upon a time, this land used to be home to dairy farmers, who were shifted to Dhanas and Maloya, now known as milk villages. Although there are over 18 housing societies here, a large tract of land lies vacant. SS Sharma says the land will be used for recreational purposes or to set up a market. “The authorities have assured us that it will be developed as per the sector’s needs. This is a big advantage as we can customise the sector as per our wish list,” said Sharma.

Progressively yours

The Progressive Enclave is arguably the largest housing society here with around 600 families. Shakti Kumar Jain, who has been living here for the last nine-odd years, says, “We are anticipating a lot of changes as the sector has enough land. The government has already set up a government model school and a commerce college.”

Recently, these two sectors were linked to the Piped Natural Gas (PNG) which is cheaper than the LPG. Sanjeeta Khanna, a resident of Progressive Enclave, is all smiles as she tells you how thrilled she is with this development. “We are among the first few sectors in Chandigarh to get PNG. It’s good to get cutting-edge amenities,” she said.

Unlike the rest of Chandigarh where people fret over their individual gardens, strictly out of bounds for strangers, residents here lavish their affection on the community parks. “These plants that you see here were sown three years ago; a month later I shifted to the Progressive Enclave,” recounts Brij Mohan, a resident of BJ Enclave, whose days starts with a morning walk in the park adjacent to the society. “In cities, you will find all type of luxuries but trees, plants, flowers drive you close to the nature. These are our biggest luxury.”

Work in progress

Sector 51 is more sparsely populated than 50 but the flats under construction are a harbinger of the busy times ahead. “I visit this area twice a week. Next year I will be living in one of these flats,” says Devesh Joshi, an allottee, while pointing to the housing board flats.

More than 50% of Sector 51 is yet to be developed. It was in 2016 that the Chandigarh Housing Board started work on 200 flats, which will be handed over to the allottees next year. “Around 4.48 acres in Sector 51 were earmarked for the project,” says Swadesh Sharma, an allottee. The delay in construction was in part due to the 1 acre in possession of three saw mills since 1988. “They dragged UT to the court, leading to long court proceedings and the consequent delay,” said an insider.

One society, one family

Each society in these sectors is a different world where everyone is part of one big family. “It is like a village. Ask anyone about me and they will drop you to my place. Go to any other sector and they will know the kothi number but not the occupant,” says Vishavajit Singh, who was planning to go for a cup of tea at a friend’s place when we met him. On the way to Sargodha Enclave, he says, “Living here may have many constraints but a big comfort we enjoy is that we live like a joint family.”

Initially, many residents were apprehensive about moving here. “When I came here a year ago, my wife had her misgivings about living in close quarters with others in a society. But after the first few months, we started enjoying it. Today, we are like a family,” says Sanjeev Kumar, who lives in Progressive Society. Ravish Rana, his neighbour, agrees. “We live in a world of our own where everyone cares for each other.”

The societies use their welfare associations to flag and resolve issues. “The social media has made it very easy for us to meet and express our views. We have WhatsApp groups. One person points out an issue and others start raining solutions,” says Kamal Jeet, who lives in the Sargodha Apartments.

Residents of Dayal Bagh Society, ESIC Cooperative Society and Defence Scientist Cooperative Society in Sector 51 are eagerly looking forward to the green belt that has been planned in the area. “There is no chance of any further construction here other than that stipulated according to the master plan. So these sectors will have adequate green cover,” says Satish Sharma. Work on developing a green belt started a few years back. “By the time more apartments are built, these sectors will have an impressive green cover. The Municipal Corporation also plans to develop a leisure valley in Sector 50,” informs Sharma.

With their greens in place, the residents are now working towards getting some food for the soul. S K Jain, who lives in Progressive Enclave, says the welfare associations have been trying to get land from authorities to construct a temple. The local Sikh body has also approached the owner of Gurudwara Dhanna Bhagat Ji, located on the border of Chandigarh and Mohali.

Freedom behind bars

Chandigarh was in its infancy when it decided to build a jail in the wilderness on its outskirts. The Burail prison came up as a sub-jail in 1972. With hardly any crime in the newborn city, it was a small affair. But soon it was upgraded to a district jail in 1975. With its staff introducing several prisoner-related reforms, it was elevated as a Model Jail in 1990.

But after militancy hit Punjab, the jail turned a serious leaf. It was in its high-security cells that former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh’s assassins were incarcerated. In 2004, this jail hit the headlines when three of these assassins and two others escaped by digging a 94-foot-long tunnel. The sleepy jail suddenly turned high profile. The audacious escape put the spotlight on the jail, its officials and the lax security.

Lately, the jail has been making news for all the right reasons. Jail inmates have been cooking food for 110 Anganwaris and 5000 children of Chandigarh since April 2017.

This June it became the first prison in the country to start an online food delivery service. Burail Jail now takes orders and delivers them home. Just click on their website and order from the vast menu that includes samosas, gulab jamuns, sandwiches et al at pocket-friendly prices. Look around and you will see the Burail jail food delivery van doing the rounds of the city. IG (Prisons) says they are doing brisk business. All food items are prepared by trained inmates under expert supervision. There is also a jail canteen that even outsiders can visit. Now plans are afoot to open a showroom in Sector 22 .

Chandigarh sports complex: Paradise for players

These sectors will soon see a state-of-the-art sports complex. Conceived in September 2015, its construction began in January 2016. It is the lone place dedicated to sports in the sector.

Being constructed with an investment of ₹8 crore, this beautiful complex will house a swimming pool, along with courts for badminton, table tennis and squash besides a multipurpose hall.

Shiv Kumar, a guard at the complex, says, “I have been here for almost a year now. The civil work is complete and the complex will probably be opened for public by the end of this year.”

When asked whether the residents of the sector are interested in the facility, he says, “Every day someone or the other comes to ask when the complex will start functioning. Some days as many as 10 to 15 people come over.”

Beant Singh, who lives in the society opposite the complex, seems to know the politics of the place. He says, “The construction of the sports complex was under the municipal corporation and administration earlier. Now, it has been transferred to the sports department.

There is complete lack of coordination between these two bodies, hence the delay.”

However, he is also looking forward to the facility. “Just let the sports complex start, all our kids are going to flood the place.”

Ayan Garg, an 8-year-old Class 2 student, shares this excitement. Returning from a long day at school, his eyes gleam at the mere mention of the complex. In perfect English, he says, “I am going to play soccer. I like to play the striker. I have seen the complex from outside and it looks fantastic.”

Gurmeet Cheema is a mother of two and a vivacious badminton player who regularly enjoys a game with her younger son.

“I have heard the sports complex is going to have a swimming pool and indoor badminton court. It is going to be easy for mothers as well because they will not have to go to faraway sports complexes to pick and drop the kids,” she says.

“Sports is an important part of a child’s life. It plays a vital role in keeping the youth on track. I am looking forward to this sports complex,” Cheema added..

First Published: Sep 05, 2018 15:32 IST