Major projects lost due lack of political will, fund crunch in Patiala

During the 2013 civic body elections, the SAD-BJP alliance made tall claims of successfully implementing these projects, once it comes into power.

punjab Updated: Dec 14, 2017 15:30 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Navrajdeep Singh
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Patiala,SAD-BJP alliance,Patiala civic problems
Cattle feeding on the garbage dumped at Khalsa Mohalla in Patiala. (HT Photo)

Tall claims were made during the past 10 years to implement the major projects in the city, but not even a single major project has materialised so far. The pending projects, included the solid waste management plant, canal-based water supply plant, shifting of dairies, introducing the city bus service and beautification of the Rajindra Lake.

Whether due to lack of political will or the shortage of finances, these projects progressed hardly a bit during the past five years.

During the 2013 civic body elections also the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance promised to implement these projects, once it came to power.

Though formalities related to the solid waste management and dairy shifting projects were completed in 2016, both the projects lingered on after the state government raised certain objections on them.

Both canal-based water supply and city bus service projects also remained in limbo as, besides discussions, nothing concrete was done to start the projects.

Meanwhile, the beautification of the Rajindra Lake was lost in the legal tangle, after Malvinder Singh, a scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family, filed a civil writ petition in the high court in December last year, demanding to stop the work, as, he claimed, that the MC’s lake restoration move would destroy the heritage value of the lake.

Status of the projects

Solid waste management plant (SWMP): The Punjab local bodies department scrapped the tendering process completed by the SAD-BJP government and decided to start it again. The department raised questions over finalising the tenders to a lone bidder company, which had no experience of setting up such a plant earlier and scrapped the tenders on technical grounds. However, the MC has already indentified 20-acre land for the project in Dudhar village, 20 km from here.

The failure of the Punjab government and the MC in setting up the project pushed chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s home city and constituency to the bottom in the Swachh Sarvekshan-2017 rankings released by the Union ministry of urban development in May this year.

Patiala is among the dirtiest cities as it ranked 411 of 434 cities.

With no door-to-door collection of garbage, the litter can easily be seen dumped along roadsides and in vacant plots across the city. For over 50 years now, the waste in the city has been dumped in the open at the dumping ground on the Sanaur road.

Shifting of dairies

Its been almost 14 years since the project was announced, with all the formalities, including allotment of tenders worth ₹6 crore to a private construction company, the file related to the project is still lying with the state government for final clearance.

The project was announced in 2003 by the then CM Captain Amarinder Singh, but the corporation invited tenders for construction of dairies in the outskirts of Patiala only last year.

Under the project, all dairy owners, operating within the walled city, will be shifted to a 21-acre site in Ablowal village where they will be allotted plots at a government-controlled rate.

Canal-based water supply

The civic body’s dream project proposed in 2006 to ensure round-the-clock water supply seems to have been buried under piles of official documents.The ₹175 crore project, was expected to ease the troubles of the region's residents, who have been dealing with water shortage for over three decades now. It had been stalled due to poor strategy and planning on the civic body’s part.

The project was proposed by the then mayor Vishnu Sharma of the Congress after approval from the CM. Ever since, a series of studies have been conducted to determine its feasibility, but the project is yet to witness any concrete progress.

Beautification of Rajindra Lake

On July 22, 2016, former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal formally inaugurated the restoration work of the lake. As per the layout plan, besides two kilometre concrete pathway around the lake, it was proposed to construct a new entrance gate, install musical fountains, make sitting arrangements, a tensile structure for a food court and an amphitheatre.

But after the civil writ petition filed in the high court by Malvinder Singh, the court ordered to treat the petition as a representation, following which then municipal commissioner Gurpal Singh Chahal, passed speaking orders, recommending to drop the plan of constructing the 2km-long pathway inside the lake’s boundary.

A sum of ₹41.6 lakh, spent on the revival and beautification of the lake, has gone down the drain as the corporation lost the project to legal hitches.

City bus service

Even after completing all initial mandatory formalities, the Union ministry of urban development scrapped its much-hyped, centrally-sponsored city bus service project before it even saw light of the day.

The ministry has informed the corporation that it cannot provide funds for the project after the transport component to municipal bodies has been excluded from the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (Amrut). The initial cost of the project was ₹20 crore to be divided in the ratio 80:20 between the Centre and the state government under Amrut’s predecessor Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

All the formalities for the project, initiated in 2013, were completed and also approved by the ministry in 2015. Even the MC got permission to purchase 50 buses, and tenders worth ₹12.62 crore were awarded to two companies in 2015.

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 12:58 IST