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HT Special | Life on the periphery: A poor cousin of Panchkula

Secluded and under-developed. These two words best describe the Panchkula urban estate across the Ghaggar bridge. Distinct from rest of the city, this undulating area is marked by garbage dumps, withering roads, stray animals and vacant plots.

punjab Updated: Feb 27, 2017 14:52 IST
Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Hindustan Times, Panchkula
Panchkula,National Green Tribunal,HUDA
A dumping ground has suddenly sprung up in Sector 24, Panchkula.(Sant Arora/Hindustan Times)

Secluded and under-developed. These two words best describe the Panchkula urban estate across the Ghaggar bridge. Distinct from rest of the city, this undulating area is marked by garbage dumps, withering roads, stray animals and vacant plots.

Mountain of garbage

Though the Panchkula city started growing roots in the 1970s, the planners failed to earmark land for a dumping ground. As the city grew, an open ground in Sector 23 began to be used for dumping waste. But as the city developed further, new sectors (24, 25, 26, 27 and 28) came up around the dump, and it no longer lay in isolation.

Irked by the foul smell, residents of Sectors 25 and 26 waged a legal battle first at the Punjab and Haryana High Court and later at National Green Tribunal (NGT) for shifting the dump. The battle is still going on.

At one point, the NGT imposed a ban on throwing garbage in Sector 23.Unable to find an alternative dumping ground, the Municipal Corporation (MC) appealed to the NGT, following which it relented and allowed disposal of waste here, but only after treatment. The MC also built a boundary wall around the dump, which was earlier in the open.

With about 120 tonnes of trash thrown here every day, it’s a mountain of waste, which is not only unsightly but also emits a foul smell and is a breeding ground for flies. Often, the dumping ground catches fire, causing much distress to the life of residents living in the vicinity.

Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) wants to shift the dump to Jhuriwala near Sector 25, but the residents are opposing it and the NGT has to take the final call. The National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) has already given the site its approval after two rejections.

The garbage is not contained to this sector alone. There are areas within other sectors, which are turning into small dumping grounds. Take, for instance, parts of Sector 24 and Sector 26 facing the National Highway 73.

As the sectors are still being built, it’s commonplace to find heaps of debris. The uneven terrain results in water-logging in vacant plots.

An internal road in dilapidated condition in sector 25, Panchkula. ( Sant Arora/Hindustan Times )

Worn out roads

The network of roads is not only poorly planned, but also in a bad shape.The trans-Ghggar sectors are connected to main Panchkula via just two bridges, one near the Majri Chowk, which has no streetlights, and the other that connects Sector 21 to 23, but has only a few functional streetlights.

The roads are in a dismal state. The one near the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Sector 23 is being dug up. The internal roads in Sector 25 are in a shambles. The residents complain that HUDA is not bothered and the roads have not been re-carpeted for the last six years.

These worn-out roads not only make for an unsafe drive but also damage the vehicles.

No place for parks

The parks in this part of the city are largely missing. Those which exist are not maintained well unlike the areas under Municipal Corporation (MC).

The parks in Sector 25 also present a poor picture. Some residents have started using a park (any landmark?) for drying clothes.

The widening of National Highway-73 has taken a toll on the green areas. A green belt between the dumping ground and Sector 23 has totally vanished.

As these sectors have large open areas, wild growth is rampant, making it difficult to see traffic at turns. Evening walkers are scared of encountering snakes and insects.

Missing markets

As these sectors are yet to develop, there are very few markets here. Sectors 23 and 24 have no market at all, while residents of Sector 26 have to make do with just one shop, which is a liquor vend. Residents of Sectors 27 and 28 too have to fend for themselves.

Stray cattle roaming freely in sector 26, Panchkula. ( Sant Arora/Hindustan Times )

Strays on the loose

Stray animals have a free run in these sectors. The growing number of dogs, cows, bulls, and monkeys pose a grave danger to children and elderly.

The population of stray dogs is growing and there are spots where one can find a bunch of 6-8 stray dogs. People often complain about dog bites. Residents are also harassed by monkeys that frequently enter homes in search of food. Stray cattle roaming around make you feel as if you are in a village.

Cost of enhancement

These sectors were set up after acquiring land from villagers. Though a compensation amount was given to them, the landowners contested it in courts and sought enhancement, which has been largely allowed. But the enhancement cost has to be borne by plot owners as per their agreement with HUDA. “I have paid enhancement five times since 1994,” lamented advocate Hemant Sarin, a resident of Sector 25. Similarly, the residents of Sectors 24 and 26 have borne this burden multiple times.

“We have formed a Joint Action Committee of Sectors 23 to 28 to fight the enhancement issue,” said Subhash Kapoor, secretary of Joint Action Committee.

A few years ago, all the Resident Welfare Associations of trans- Ghggar sectors had approached the High Court against HUDA’s notices of enhancement. The HC had ordered HUDA to look into the issue but in vain. Now the JAC is mulling other options.

First Published: Feb 27, 2017 14:36 IST