HT Chandigarh Readers’ Take: Recarpet the road to progress

Online ticket bookings, smart parking

The first and foremost priority of the MC should be to provide suitable jobs to young and educated people in Chandigarh and ensure they stay put in the city, hone their skills and build their careers here. The urban poverty alleviation and livelihood cell for the purpose should make it possible. Secondly, I went to Sukhna Lake a few days back and saw long queues for booking of boating trips. Such facilities should be available online or at tourist offices to prevent harassment to people. Also, an online yearly pass can be made for vehicle parking in all sectors or something on lines of the FASTag. That would save people’s time without compromising on security. There’s also a need for markets in the southern areas such as Sector 50, which has many societies. It should ideally be developed by the planning and building department. The health and sanitation department should also ensure that all areas of the city attention when it comes to cleanliness, and not just the posh sectors. For example, the lake in Sector 42 is filthy. It should be cleaned and some activities organised there by the mayor with the help of local clubs to increase engagement with young people. Last but not least, as families of Chandigarh residents grow, more houses should be built and handed over to the younger generations to enable them to live here. That way human resources can be developed here and youngsters will not feel the need to migrate elsewhere.

Gurjot Singh

Don’t abandon old projects

The new mayor will have to face many challenges in this election year, such as solving the decade old logjam of the waste processing plant and the ongoing waste management crisis, improving the city’s performance in Swachh Survekshan, resolving the MC funds crunch and fulfilling the BJP’s promises of making Chandigarh one of the top smart cities in India. The new mayor should focus on completing the projects initiated by his predecessors because at times old projects are relegated to low priority. On such project is the open air theatre of Sector 48C (the foundation stone was laid by local MP Kirron Kher almost two years back), which has been virtually abandoned, clearly a waste of the tax payer’s money. The door to door collection of segregated waste, however, has started through mechanised trolleys in some parts of the city, but the system has many teething problems. The citizens have to be made aware of how the system functions effectively. The new incumbent must also prioritise creating adequate parking facilities in the city. Another aspect needing immediate action is checking the increasing dog population in residential areas. Then, one needs to engage eminent persons / representatives of RWAs while planning new infrastructure. No arbitrary decisions should be taken under political pressure.

SS Arora, Mohali

Safety during pandemic is key

Our new mayor faces many challenges. The coronavirus pandemic should be kept under control by ensuring that all precautions are followed. The mayor should also work to improve the city’s ranking in Swachh Survekshan. Smart parking lots should be created with more space. The mayor should ensure that all funds are utilised with care to prevent wastage and to resolve the funds crunch. Development work should be looked into and bad roads should be repaired before the rainy season. It’s high time the city got 24-hour water supply. Raahgiri Day should be restarted to reduce traffic and encourage bicycling. Public transport in the city should be improved and security beefed up with round-the-clock police patrolling on roads.

Saikrit Gulati, Chandigarh

Dual power centres don’t work

It is strange but true that the elected mayor is a toothless tiger whereas the Governor of Punjab as Chandigarh administrator is all powerful but not accountable to city residents. It is unfortunate that the MC and administration have failed to solve the day to day problems of the citizens, including garbage collection and disposal, encroachments, local transport as well as water supply. This is because of dual control of the administration and MC, which results in non accountability and passing the buck. Non functional streetlights result in increased crime rates at night. Decisions on storing, selling and burning crackers, holding Ram Leela shows are taken by the administration, which has no time for the trader community and organisers of such event. Sukhna Lake is in bad shape whereas it can generate income for the MC. Encroachments of public spaces are increasing. Electric buses have not been introduced and nothing concrete seems to have been planned when it comes to the overbridge at Tribune Chowk. The administration and some VIP residents are more interested in the city’s Heritage status rather than introducing the Metro rail and multi-storey buildings. To address local problems, the mayor should actively involve the sector RWAs and business associations; they should be adopted as members of corporation committees. Ward councillors should be given the responsibility to ensure cleanliness and maintenance of sectors. RWAs should be roped in to create awareness among residents about garbage disposal and maintenance of parks. Combined sustained efforts will produce the desired effect.

Col SK Aggarwal (retd), Panchkula

Just clean up Chandigarh

The mayor’s agenda should be to just do some constructive work for the city or at least make the effort to clean it up. The cycle tracks are littered with garbage, the service lanes have either been encroached or have piles of waste. One wonders why simple things like littering and waste burning cannot be controlled. I am not even suggesting road repairs, water problems, vendor issues or anything big or complicated for the mayor. In fact, Chandigarh must be the only city of its kind where a mayor has done nothing constructive for years. They come for a year, do absolutely nothing and go! Our last mayor could not even see damaged roads in Chandigarh, so one wondered how she could even talk about repairing them. All we ask is: At least make the city litter free.

Paveela Bali

More playgrounds for children

Chandigarh’s new mayor should work for the development and upliftment of the city. Roads and streetlights should be on the priority list, with special attention paid to maintenance of parks, many of which have broken swings and wild overgrowth. Every sector must have playgrounds to help children enjoy sports and extra-curricular activities. Cleanliness and sanitation are lacking and the stray dog problem remains unchecked.

Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh

Homes for seniors in all sectors

Chandigarh has a big population of retired senior citizens. Each sector should have a home for seniors where they can be taught skills such as digital literacy, yoga, meditation and singing with other recreational facilities to keep them busy and healthy. ‘Keep learning’ and ‘community service’ should be their motto. All seniors should be involved in supervising waste management and offering consultation on traffic management or utilising past experiences for living a positive and happy life.

Col TBS Bedi (Retd)

Control pollution

The focus of the MC this year should be on controlling pollution, reducing congestion, and streamlining the waste segregation system. The mayor should also work hard to get more funding from the Centre and ensure all pending projects are completed on time.

Avinash Goyal, Chandigarh

Decongestion of roads should be prioritised

Chandigarh has fared badly in the Swachh Survekshan. Heaps of garbage can be seen in every nook and corner of the city. Squatters are seen everywhere and beggars knock at car windows at every traffic signal, which increases the risk of accidents as they wind their way among vehicles even when the lights turn green. The new mayor should focus on the cleanliness of the city first and streamline the waste management system before ensuring that the squatters and beggars are removed. Recarpeting of roads should also be prioritised. Parking of vehicles should be the major agenda as traffic is increasing by the day. To decongest roads public transport needs to be strengthened. Planning needs to be done for underpasses and flyovers. Security has to be beefed up to make residents feel safe. More efforts should be made to ensure senior citizens are cared for, with special security/volunteers checking up on those who live on their own and ensuring they are kept engaged and happy by taking up assignments to teach or offer skills training to youngsters.

Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali

Longer terms for mayors

The year 2020 was a zero year all over the world due to Covid-19 and so nothing much was achieved by the MC. One can, therefore, in 2021, expect a lot of projects to be announced in the next few months to create hype around the elections. The actual working term of the new mayor will definitely be limited as he is likely to remain busy in the last six months with the polls. What is very important is to consider a few important things now: This includes changing the term of the mayor from a year to five years. In the current system, almost a year is lost out of five years in canvassing and pleasing the party bosses to claim mayorship for the next election. There’s a lot of bad blood among party leaders who want their own candidates to win. Then, one keeps hearing about how starved the MC is of funds and the difficulties it faces in carrying out development work. There should be a system in place to ensure that funds for Chandigarh administration and MC are separately allocated in the Union budget with money for each project directly transferred to the MC instead of administration officials. Project linked fund allocations will improve the operations and monitoring of particular projects and efficiency of the officials handling these. The sewage and waste management projects need special attention and cycle tracks should be repaired immediately.

Suresh Verma, Chandigarh

Good rapport with bureaucracy must

The smart city project is a distant dream, since, as of now, the tenure of the mayor is just 12 months and the incumbent will take that much time to find his or her bearings and get acquainted with the specific civic problems of each ward of the entire city. As for the prerequisites of a smart city, such as adequate water and power supply, clean and smooth roads, efficient waste management, healthcare, education, public transport, clean environment and hassle free parking, the mayor must make sure he is kept fully updated on the targets and deadlines. Also, a good rapport with the bureaucracy and political opponents is a must in the limited time frame if the mayor wants to make sure that important projects are completed on time or get underway. Residents who sincerely want Chandigarh to be in the top smart city bracket should act responsibly and do everything they can to make the MC function efficiently.

Subhash Luthra

Focus on improving basic facilities

The mayor can play a catalytic role in improving the basic amenities in the city. He should work above party lines and help the administration in developing Chandigarh into a smart city. Rather than focusing on the ensuing December elections this year he should concentrate on improving basic public facilities in the city such as education, health and public parking. Other areas which also need immediate attention are improvement in the law and order situation with the active support of the enforcement agencies. There should also be more emphasis on utilising technology in delivery of public services. A single window system to process all services being offered to citizens should be set up immediately. The mayor is the main pillar in the development process and hence his role and action will attract more public scrutiny in the December elections.

Anil Kumar Yadav

Rise above party lines

The mayor can make a difference to city beautiful provided he sets a clear cut goal and executes the plan to achieve it. His immediate priority would be to stop politics in MC and rise above narrow party lines. He has to galvanise it and make the councillors accountable for ensuring that they put the welfare of residents first. Among the major tasks he has is ensuring that the housing issue is solved. Over one lakh homeless and slum dwellers need to be adequately rehabilitated and the slums done away with. Secondly, the shortage of approximately 25 million gallons per day of drinking water has to be resolved. Poor transportation system with a requirement of at least 100 more buses and traffic congestion problems; law and order; are crucial issues which need to be addressed immediately. Lastly, the health infrastructure needs to be augmented to reduce the load on the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research.

Madhu RD Singh, Ambala

Privatisation is not the answer

There is no road to success, but strong will power will be required to clean up the city. The mayor should not put everything on sale through privatisation. He should ensure that he inculcates the spirit of good work culture, discipline, dedication and honesty in everything he does.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Energy efficiency key area

The mayor’s priority should be the development of the city. Issues he needs to focus on are: Energy efficiency to cut down spending on power and save the environment. The next is digital parking as the population grows and number of cars increase. Then comes water supply, which should be adequate. Assured electricity supply should be another priority with sanitation, waste management, efficient urban mobility and public transport. There should be more impetus on affordable housing. Ishita Nara

Overhaul the system

The councillors in the past went on junkets, we saw them quarrelling at meetings, and employees refused to wear smart watches. Shouldn’t the working of the MC be overhauled?

MPS Chadha, Mohali

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