Heap of problems ailing the Rock Garden in Chandigarh

Rock Garden earns around Rs 1.5 lakh daily through sale of tickets and has earnings of Rs 10 crore so far.

punjab Updated: Jul 06, 2018 12:23 IST
Ifrah Mufti
Ifrah Mufti
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Rock Garden,Chandigarh,Chandigarh news
A garbage bin stationed at the Nek Chand Memorial is awaiting completion for long. (Ravi Kumar/HT)

From filthy washrooms to dry water taps, non-functional e-ticketing machines to pending construction of buildings, unkempt pond to poorly maintained cafeteria, the complaint list at the Rock Garden is a long one. And the grouse is not only from the visitors who throng Nek Chand’s creation in huge numbers each day, but from workers at Rock Garden, some of who have been working here for more than 15 years.

It has been three years since Nek Chand’s death and his foundation, taken care by the society for the maintenance and development of Rock Garden, Sector 1, can be split into two — during Nek Chand and after Nek Chand.

First the numbers: Rock Garden earns around Rs 1.5 lakh daily through sale of tickets and has earnings of Rs 10 crore so far. Then why is the maintenance of the place in a shoddy state?

Kannan, who has been working at the Rock Garden for the past 18 years, said, “The washrooms almost always stink. Even as visitors complain that the washrooms don’t have soap or sanitisers. But we are helpless. A foreigner recently kept roaming around for an hour asking for a soap to clean hands.”

Limited food items at cafeteria

The international and local tourists continuously complain about the cafeteria, which has limited food items. This cafeteria is being run by the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Limited (CITCO) for the past three years. CITCO was given the charge of the cafeteria after Nek Chand’s death. During Nek Chand’s time, the cafeteria was run by a private organisation.

Cafeteria owner at the Rock Garden, Kamlesh Singh, says, “We cook as per requirement and do not get any complaints. Our canteen will complete three years in some time.”

Another problem is that of drinking water. Tourists have to carry water bottles with them as taps inside the Rock Garden usually run dry and even if there is water, it is too hot to drink during the summer season.

Siddhi, a female worker who has been working here for the past decade, said, “Usually, the water tanks kept here were covered with shed or some other thing to avoid direct heat affecting their temperature. But now no similar initiative has been taken and we cannot even touch the tap water during this summers.”

Some of the waterfalls at the Rock Garden are connected with motor pumps. The workers who were cleaning Phase 1 of the garden shared that motor pumps lying closed for over a month were started recently and they were again stopped.

A rusted truck parked outside the Doll Museum in Phase 3 of the Rock Garden in Chandigarh. (HT Photo)

Unkempt ponds, non-functional entry machines

Visitors can be seen enjoying the waterfalls at the garden, but unkempt ponds takes away the sheen of the surroundings. There’s filth, weed and one look at it makes it clear that lack of cleanliness is an issue here.

Last October, the society for the maintenance and development of Rock Garden had installed machines for card-based entry and exit but these are non-functional and kept in a corner towards the exit. There were plans to have e-tickets in order to manage the crowd but till date they haven’t been started.

Proposals yet to see light of the day

For the convenience of visitors who have to come back through the entire Phase III to go towards the exit, there was a proposal to connect the end of Phase III directly to the exit but that plan was never implemented.

Similarly, there was a proposal to construct a building in Phase III, near the swings, where Nek Chand wanted to preserve all his medals, awards, books, films, creations, but that building was never completed.

There was also a plan to make rain shelters during Nek Chand’s time but that remained on papers.

Nek Chand’s son Anuj Saini said a lot of money is collected through sale of tickets and it needs to be properly spent on maintenance.

Yashpal Gupta, member secretary of the society for maintenance and development of Rock Garden, said, “Exact figures need to be checked with the bank but Rs 10 crore is a rough amount we must be having as the society has been running for the past 10-12 years.”

First Published: Jul 06, 2018 12:20 IST