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Patiala municipal corporation: Bit by bit, mayor Bittu has to return city to glory

The Congress-ruled House will have to start from scratch as the city has been facing a plethora of civic issues after being ignored by the SAD-BJP regime.

punjab Updated: Jan 31, 2018 10:15 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Navrajdeep Singh
Hindustan Times, Patiala
Patiala municipal corporation,Bittu,mayor Bittu
garbage dumped in Khalsa Mohalla in Patiala.(Bharat Bhushan/HT)

While the Congress swept the municipal corporation (MC) elections in Patiala and won 59 of 60 seats, the newly elected mayor, Sanjeev Sharma Bittu, faces the challenging task of ensuring inclusive development of the royal city, which is also the CM’s hometown.

Despite remaining in power for a decade, the SAD-BJP alliance ignored development of the city and the stint instead became infamous for controversies. The new Congress House will now have to start from scratch as the city has been facing a plethora of civic issues after being ignored in the past decade in terms of development and financial growth.

The financial mess in the civic body can be gauged from the fact that it only managed to fulfil committed expenditures — payment of salaries and pension to its employees. Such was the case that funds collected from property tax and other entities were bypassed to meet the civic body’s day-to-day expenditure.

Moreover, with parliamentary election scheduled in 2019, the party faces a tough task of projecting itself as a ‘development’ machine to provide better civic amenities.

The only positive for the new House is the allocation of ₹1,000 crore worth of development projects, including a canal-based drinking water supply scheme for the city. These projects were announced by the chief minister during his maiden visit to Patiala before elections in November last year.

ROAD TO RECOVERY

The newly constituted House will have to build a positive image in the eyes of the public and take corrective measures to undo damages done by the previous regime which failed to provide basic civic amenities and hassle-free services to people.

The royal city had figured among the dirtiest cities across the country in the Swachh Sarvekshan- 2017 and ranked 411 out of the list of 468 cities.

In the last five years, the civic body has witnessed a boom of illegal ‘influential’ builders, charges of corruption, insanitary civic conditions, poor planning and lack of coordination among councillors and administrative staff, pushing the city backwards in terms of development.

Though the SAD-BJP claimed to have spent ₹109 crore during its tenure, the ground reality has a different tale to tell, as not even a single major project took off in the last decade.

Major problems

*Dilapidated sewerage and drainage system

*Water-logging due to rain

*Heaps of garbage along roadsides and in residential areas

*Menace of stray animals

*Lack of adequate number of parks, playgrounds

*Broken and pothole-ridden roads

POLITICAL WILL VITAL TO ENSURE DEVELOPMENT

Political willingness is required for kick-starting work in major projects.

Several projects, including solid waste management plant, canal-based water supply plant, shifting of dairies, city bus service and beautification of the Rajindra Lake, have been stuck since a long time at initial stages.

Though formalities related to solid waste management were completed by the SAD-BJP government, the Congress scrapped it soon over ‘flawed’ tendering process after it assumed power. The dairy shifting project, meanwhile, lingered on as the file pertaining to final clearance remains pending with the state government.

The centrally sponsored city bus service project met the same fate after the Centre refused to release payments and scrapped the same before it even saw the light of day.

The beautification of the Rajindra Lake is lost in a 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 the authorities to stop work, as he claimed that the MC’s lake restoration move will destroy the lake’s heritage value.

Ongoing/pending projects

*Solid waste management plant

*Shifting of dairies

*Canal-based water supply

*Beautification of Rajindra Lake

*City bus service project

*Installation of LED lights

First Published: Jan 31, 2018 10:14 IST