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Chandigarh Sector 48: A new society

THE PROMISED LAND Marked by cleanliness and security, this sector is an epitome of class living in apartments with which Corbusier’s Chandigarh finally started seeing vertical growth

punjab Updated: Sep 11, 2018 18:32 IST
SHIVANI CHANDEL
SHIVANI CHANDEL
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Corbusier,Sector 48,Chandigarh
A view of green belt and societies in Sector 48 Chandigarh. (Karun Sharma/HT)

The first sector to be built in the third phase of Chandigarh’s development, it heralded a new way of life in a city that had so far mainly seen horizontal development. Sector 48 was vertical. It had no room for independent houses, for it favoured apartments. It turned its back on an insular neighbourhood, long reviled for being cold and unfriendly, and embraced community living.

In a sense, Sector 48 signified the end of Corbusier’s Chandigarh and the beginning of a Metro Age. Eager to make room for the ever-increasing population of the city, the sector is home to 23 societies with 2,433 apartments spread over three floors, including parking, on 263 acres.

But its foundation remained agrarian. It was built on land acquired from farmers in 1992-93, and the construction began in 1996-97. Punjab Municipal Act, 1976, extended to Chandigarh, suggests that the planning works should be carried out by the engineering department. But in case of Sector 48 and others in the third phase, it was done by both engineering department and Chandigarh Housing Board, with some services falling under the purview of the municipal corporation.

THE RURAL IDYLL

Joginder Singh, a historian who used to own land in Sector 48, says, “The area under the sector today used to be agricultural land, part of Burail village, which was called abavni as it was spread over 52,000 bigha.”

The part of Burail village on which Sector 48-A came up had mango groves besides a profusion of guava trees and Indian blackberry. Joginder Singh fondly remembers his tarboojiya, gachhelan, ghoda and sindooriya, all juicy varieties of mangoes, which were uprooted down after the land was acquired in 1992. “The tomatoes grown here were exceptionally delicious. We also grew other crops like wheat, maize, pulses and sugarcane,” he remembers.

A fresh-water rivulet flowed through the sector throughout the year and was a place where shepherds would relax after a tiring day of moving around with their cattle. Tube wells and wells dotted the area, a landscape of prosperity and abundance.

THE TRANSITION

The first two societies to start building in the sector were Kendriya Vihar and Indian Express Society. The former remains arguably the biggest society in the city with 305 apartments. Baljit Balli, president of Indian Express Society’s residents welfare association, recalls, “When the construction began in 1996-97, the area was totally unused. The land was abandoned after its acquisition in 1992.”

Today it’s home to the educated elite of the city with rentals touching Rs 30,000 a month. Ask Surjan, the security guard at RCS & CPS Society, whether any famous people live here, and he says, “Every person living in the society is on top of his game.”

Son of the owner of Maggi departmental store, the oldest shop in the sector, Nitish Singla says, “The crowd in the sector isn’t young. You mostly see senior citizens going about their lives peacefully.”

Peace and security are the twin characteristics of the sector. All the societies have at least four security cameras working 24x7 and the police patrol is regular and vigilant. This is the safest sector in Chandigarh, claims Singla.

Sector 49 police station lodged in the sector, makes it even safer.

LIVING IT UP

High on safety, the sector may fall a little short on shopping as it has just one market with 22 shops to cater to the daily needs of the people. With three ATMs, a salon, a stationary shop, two eating joints a few departmental stores and chemist shops, it certainly falls short of variety. But Sushil Dhara, a resident of AOT Complex and owner of a very temperamental dachshund, doesn’t feel the sector is lacking in this department. “Peace is the most important thing; you don’t get disturbed by honking. Parking isn’t an issue and we have all the facilities in adjoining sectors,” he says.

“Bestech Mall is just 4 km away, and Elante is another 5. I would personally not want commercial activities to strike the sector and keep enjoying the tranquility,” Dhara adds.

J J Singh, president of the RWA association, is immensely proud of their community centre. It boasts an e-sampark centre, which opened in 2014; a table-tennis hall, an air-conditioned conference room, a banquet hall and a gymnasium.

The residents can take membership of the community centre and enjoy weekend get-togethers and games like tambola, chess, carrom-board and others, he said.

Built at a cost of Rs7.5 crore, it has an underground parking for 100 cars and a concrete stage for holding celebrations and functions.

The sector planners haven’t compromised on greenery. It’s evident from the six well-manicured parks in the sector with walking and running tracks and slides for kids.

No wonder Meera Singh of Senior Citizen Society, calls these parks the USP of the sector. “We have parks next to every society. Some societies even have smaller parks for children.”

Two of the parks also have open-air gyms. Then, there is a playground next to the Banyan Tree School, where youngsters and adults alike spend weekends enjoying a game of cricket.

FUTURE PERFECT

There is a lot in the pipeline for this young sector. The forthcoming projects include a hospital, an open-air theatre, a library and a gurudwara. The second open-air theatre of the city, the first being at Panjab University’s theatre department, is all set to be unveiled here. Being constructed alongside a green belt at a cost of Rs 4.5 crore, the amphitheatre will have a seating capacity of 1,000 once it is opened to public in three months.

Come September and the bibliophiles in the sector will get a library in the community centre with a stock of 2,000 books and WiFi facilities.

Also on the anvil is a Safai Sewa Kendra (SSK), which will be functional in six months.

SAILING IN TWO BOATS

This idiom holds true for this sector whose land is shared by Mohali and Chandigarh. The gurdwara and temple in the sector, for instance, are in a part that falls in Punjab.

The Punjab part of the sector has a completely different flavour. Unlike an expanse of apartments with a uniform floor-plan and design, the Senior Citizen Society has independent HIG (high income group) houses, each different from the other in design and layout. But one feature that unites the two is the air of newness. The Shri Sanatana Dharma Mandir here is only four years old and the Gurudwara Hardarshan Sahib is still under construction.

Motor market in Sector 48 Chandigarh.

A SALON FOR YOUR WHEELS

Sector 48 brags the biggest motor market in Chandigarh with over 400 shops housed in an organised and authorised settlement. The market came into being thanks to a scheme launched by the UT administration in 1999 to rehabilitate the roadside mechanics. Harbhajan Singh, pradhan of the motor market, who joined the field of automobile parts and repair in 1973, recalls how the community of motor mechanics was spread all over the city. “They used to carry out their work on the roadside.” The market, he says, is the outcome of great struggle. “We staged a 45-day demonstration to demand a safe working area after which the scheme was launched,” he said.

Neeru Nanda, advisor to the administrator in 2001, set up the motor market and allotted booths to mechanics in the field. This initiative gave rise to five motor markets in all.

The second largest motor market is situated in Sector 38 (west) with over 300 workshops. Then, there is this market in Sector 43 with over 160 shops, followed by smaller markets in Sector 52 and 28.

The motor market here, which offers professional repair and customisation besides spare parts, caters to customers from all over the city and even Punjab.

Like the sector, the market doesn’t stay untouched from the streak of development. “Thinking about the workers who toil in harsh weather conditions like rain and heat, we requested the administration to legalise the sheds extended outside the workshop and this has been approved,” said the pradhan.

The market, however, struggles with lack of proper lighting and sewage system, making maintenance a tricky business. But unperturbed by the challenges, the pradhan is confident that the market will develop into one of the most well-maintained and modern affairs. Amen, we say.

First Published: Sep 11, 2018 18:32 IST