Jalandhar municipal corporation: Many a thorn in mayor Jagdish Raja’s throne
Sitting on a pile: From projects unfinished owing to political lethargy, to those stuck because of utter lack of funds, to a staff crunch — the new mayor has his task cut out.
From the Smart City project to the lack of an effective waste-management system to the ambitious fish aquarium project, Jagdish Raja, 63, has a tough task ahead as the new mayor of Jalandhar.
He may take solace in the fact that the state’s ruling party Congress has a thumping majority in the municipal corporation, though the SAD-BJP 10-year reign in the civic body as well as the state has not left much hope for him.
The new MC house comprising 65 Congress councillors, 13 of the SAD-BJP and two independents began its five-year tenure from Wednesday.
Surinder Kaur, a four-time councillor, is the senior deputy mayor while two-time councillor Harsimranjit Singh Bunty is the deputy mayor.
Among the task also is an effective public transportation facility, a slaughterhouse, a working sewerage and treatment plant, and streamlining street-vending.
And not that the city has any lack of basic issues: providing potable water, carpeting roads, constructing public toilets, maintaining parks, curbing the stray animal menace and maintaining streetlights.
The MC has fewer revenue resources than its expenditure heads, and it will largely depend on centrally funded schemes.
From the centre
The central government — where the BJP is in power — had sanctioned Rs 111 crore under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) for upgrade of the Phorliwal sewage treatment plant (STP), Rs 21 crore for water pipelines, and Rs 5 crore for upgrade of the city park.
The City Bus project is yet to started. In all, under the AMRUT the central government is committed to Rs 523 crore for Jalandhar.
Additionally, it is to have projects of Rs 1,000 crore under the Smart City Mission, in which the MC will focus on a sports hub at Burlton Park (Rs 500 crore), canal rejuvenation, stormwater drainage system, rooftop solar panels on public buildings, integrated public utility and public safety system worth Rs 191 crore, besides implementing the distribution of CNG at Rs 9 crore.
Apart from completing pending projects, the new MC house also has to overcome staff shortage. For instance, only 10 junior engineers have been working in the building and road (B&R) department against 30 sanctioned posts, while there only 48 sanitary inspectors in the operation and maintenance (O&M) branch against 60 posts.
The MC is also facing a huge shortage of clerks, as it has only 135 clerks against a requirement of at least 250.
Even the fire brigade — which, besides covering the city of over 10 lakh, has to tackle mishaps in adjoining rural areas too — has only 11 firemen against 59 sanctioned posts, excluding the 50 vacant posts of firemen on contract.