Bit by bit, Bittu has to re­turn city to glory

Congress­ruled House will have to start from scratch as the city has been fac­ing a plethora of civic is­sues af­ter be­ing ig­nored in the past decade by SAD­BJP regime

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - HINDUSTANTIMES HTPUNJAB - Navra­jdeep Singh

PA­TIALA: While the Congress swept the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tion (MC) elec­tions in Pa­tiala and won 59 of the 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 chief min­is­ter’s home town.

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 canal­based 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.


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.

The city had fig­ured among the dirtiest cities in the coun­try in the Swachh Survekshan 2017 and ranked 411 out of the list of 468 cities. Out of 14 cities and towns of Pun­jab cov­ered under the sur­vey by the Union min­istry, Pa­tiala ranked fourth from bot­tom, fol­lowed by Batala (418), Abo­har (427) and Muk­t­sar (428).

In the last five years, the civic body has wit­nessed a boom of “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 realty has a dif­fer­ent tale to tell, as not even a sin­gle ma­jor pro­ject took off in the last decade.


Po­lit­i­cal will­ing­ness is re­quired for kick­start­ing 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.


Garbage dumped in Khalsa Mo­halla in Pa­tiala on Tues­day.

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