Ranked 428 among 434 cities surveyed during Swachh Survekshan 2017, former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal’s home district Muktsar is among the 10 dirtiest cities in India and at the bottom of pile in Punjab. Muktsar has a holy city status, being home to Sri Muktsar Sahib, a historical gurdwara.
Another city in Punjab, Abohar in Fazilka district, has been ranked 427. While Muktsar’s ranking changed from 384 in 2015 to 428, Abohar’s rank in 2015 was 420 and therefore it has further dropped 7 places. Both Muktsar and Abohar had Congress MLAs before 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls, while the state was ruled by the SAD-BJP government. Karan Brar, former Congress MLA from Muktsar, and Sunil Jakhar, former Congress MLA from Abohar, were often seen complaining about the state government not being serious about development work in their seats.
But it is also interesting to note that being the former CM’s home district, Muktsar was granted nearly Rs 80 crore for various development works during Sangat Darshan events organised in 2016.
Ravi Kumar, Executive Officer, Muktsar Municipal Council, said: “Muktsar is being taken care by public health department as well as municipal council. While we take care of constructions of roads, approval of building designs, collection of taxes etc, public health takes care of water and sewerage and repair work. If work is with one department, funds can be spent judiciously.
As once roads are made, if they are broken for any water pipe, sewer work, we cannot repair. Public health has to do this and hence work keep on suffering and because of this many repair works in the city are lying pending..” However, the council now has come under the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) under which Rs 123 crore for water and sewer works have been sanctioned.
In Abohar too, overflowing sewers, garbage heaps and lack of clean drinking water are common problems. Former Congress MLA Sunil Jakhar, who was an MLA for the three consecutive terms, said, “This has not come as a surprise as even in 2014, our city’s rank was 420. Abohar had Congress MLA while BJP’s municipal council and state government always created hindrances in getting even basic work done.
I had to file a PIL in High Court so as to get sewer lines cleaned two years back. Our city had got funds under Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission before 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but later this scheme was scrapped and a new scheme AMRUT was started for which no funds have come till date. The area suffered because SAD-BJP government…Former Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal had laid foundation stone of sewer work worth Rs 72 crore in February 2014, but till date no work has started.”
The new MLA of this area, BJP’s Arun Narang, said, “The Congress MLA did no work in his tenure and now we are trying to get things streamlined. I had met Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu recently and apprised him of the pathetic condition of this town. So I am hopeful of some changes soon.” Pramil Kalani, president of Abohar’s Municipal Council, said, “Our city has got Rs 200 crore sanctioned under AMRUT.
So we are hopeful that projects of changing water and sewer pipelines will be done with this money…I am sure, in next survey, Abohar’s rank will be much better.” Another problem is Muktsar and Abohar’s sewerage treatment plant not working regularly. Whenever there is power cut, sewage disposal work stops, while contaminated water supply is a common problem in these cities along with lifting of garbage from the roads.
Muktsar DC Sumit Jarangal, when contacted said, “It is sad to know that city ranks among bottom ten dirty cities of India, we are hopeful that AMRUT scheme work will change the condition of the city.”
Speaking about the rankings, Fazilka DC Isha Kalia said, “Cleaning works come under Municipal Council and I will be seeking a reply from them as why it was not done properly due to which the town scored a low rank. Basic cleanliness is the compliance of council.”