Mullanpur, Punjab’s first ‘eco and smart city’: On the wrong side of contrast
The segment we analyse here — Mullanpur Garibdass — can be categorised as a ‘Tale of two cities’. One houses the luxurious Sukhvilas resort and the other where residents are still awaiting basic amenities.
Sitting north-west of Chandigarh, Mullanpur Garibdass, now known as New Chandigarh, is seeing development in patches. On one hand is the sleepy village with simple houses, where residents still await regular water supply and sewage disposal system.
On the other hand are the modern residential colonies with posh apartments and palm-lined avenues being developed by well-known builders of India.
The main highway passing through Mullanpur, which has come up in just two years, boasts wide roads, fancy lighting, and underground wiring. This is a far cry from its earlier avatar in which it was a narrow road with uneven patches. Though the announcement of developing the area as New Chandigarh has raised hopes and real estate prices here, village denizens continue to wait for basic facilities.
On papers, the Punjab government has declared Mullanpur as the first eco and smart city of Punjab. Other ambitious proposals for the city include an international cricket stadium. But the village dwellers rue that while focusing on building a fancy flyover and giving the city an impressive facade, the state government has done little to improve the lot of its original dwellers.
Sewa Singh, a resident of Mullanpur village, says, “We are suffering losses due to the construction of the flyover. The shopkeepers in the village who used to get some business from commuters passing by the busy market on their way to other cities of Punjab, hardly get any visitors now.”
Another resident, Gurmukh Singh, adds that though the Punjab government had released a master plan 20132058, prepared by a Singapore-based consultant, but the condition of roads, water supply, and sewage continues to be dismal. “So many big real estate developers have come and set up their projects in the Eco city, but no work is being done to improve the state of affairs in the village.”
The villagers also complain that the government has been trying to remove the market, which has been here for decades, to expand the road.
NO SEWAGE DISPOSAL
Mullanpur Garibdass is referred to as New Chandigarh but the village has nothing new. The villagers are following the age old formula of disposing of daily sewage by digging up pits outside their houses. There are open drains in the lanes outside, that are almost always filled with garbage, making for a messy situation.
Even a small pond in the market area is full of filth, and the nauseating smell it emits makes it almost impossible to cross the area. Though some villagers did try to introduce a modern sewage disposal mechanism, they did not get the votes of the entire village.
Sanitation is also a major issue in the area with garbage piled up on roadsides. The main market itself is strewn with polythene bags and leftovers. Not much is being done to keep the interior of the village clean either. The choked drains and ineffective door-to-door garbage collection system only add to the problem
NO STREETLIGHTS, POCKMARKED ROADS
The village does have streetlights but they are almost always non functional. This prompts some villagers to claim that the village was in a much better state till about 10 years back, and the New Chandigarh has only worsened their condition. The nonfunctional streetlights in the market often lead to accidents, villagers complain.
The roads have not been re-carpeted for long a long time now, leading to rough patches and pot holes.
Even the government primary school is in a bad shape with students forced to sit in damp, dingy rooms, which leak during rains.
Strongly condemning the pathetic condition of the said school, a resident AD Dhillon said, “Taking a stroll around the school, one can easily see how the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities concerned has rendered the school and its students miserable. The list of bad conditions prevailing in the school and its surroundings is rather magnified by how dingy and damp the rooms are where students have to sit and study.”
“What is even more pitiful about the school’s infrastructure is that the roof leaks like a rain shower during even a brief spell of monsoon. I wonder how the country’s future will be shaped in such schools,” Dhillon adds.