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Monday, May 17, 2021

On the wish list

A new year brings with it new hopes, dreams, aspirations for a better life for all. Here’s what some citizens of the city wish for Chandigarh in 2019. Here’s to a brand-new start.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: December 31, 2018 3:04:08 am
Kirron Kher at Terraced Garden in Sector 33, Chandigarh. (Express Photo)

‘I wish all problems of citizens get resolved’

I wish Chandigarh always gets peace, beauty and nature in abundance. I wish all problems of the citizens get resolved and the people have a fulfilling life. I hope I can serve them to the best of my ability, and make my city, my hometown proud. (Kirron Kher is Member of Parliament)

‘Less cars & more cycles in 2019’

My vision for Chandigarh is less cars and more cycles, more people walking in the open spaces. May unnatural and dead cement houses give way to natural and alive earth buildings that allow fresh air to come in and maintain warmth in winter nights and cool temperatures in hot, summer nights. I see my city surrounded by large allotments of government land which are leased to residents where kitchen gardens are grown. People come together on holidays and weekends, to grow food, harvest crops, engage children and adults alike in the magic of seeding and sprouting. Neighbourhoods meet regularly over bonfires, sharing food, warmth and stories. I hope people get in touch with the body wisdom and its self-healing capacity and turn inwards to trace lost connections. (Moonstar Doad runs Parshada, a community space for educating people on natural healing and natural living)

Senior advocate Manmohan Lal Sarin at his residence in Chandigarh.

‘Protect & preserve whatever remains of the periphery’

Having lived in Chandigarh since January 1, 1955, and having nurtured it to adulthood, my wish list for the City Beautiful is short but full of hope and expectations. If immediate action is not taken, our city will also choke to death, like the national capital. Corbusier was a visionary, and did not want the periphery of Chandigarh (a belt of 10 miles all around) to have any unplanned development. Unfortunately, the absolute opposite has happened. The haphazard construction in Naya Gaon, Kansal, etc.( Slumdog Millionaire could have been shot here), on one side and the humongous, unplanned monstrosities in Zirakpur, leading to traffic jams, and pollution, on the other, have become parasites of Chandigarh.

Air, noise and water pollution know no boundaries. Originating in one place, it can have devastating impact in another. We need to protect Chandigarh, and to do so, we need to protect and preserve whatever remains of the periphery from deteriorating. This is my first wish. Remember, to preserve a planned city, which has been a huge success, is not easy. But if we do not do it, it will be destroyed in no time at all.

There is also a threat to Chandigarh from within. The conversion of houses into apartments and then selling them floor-wise, leading to densification of population and resultant stress on the infrastructure of our city. My second wish is to stop this immediately. How can a city planned for five lakh people (that was the target population) take the load of 15 lakh people? The city and its infrastructure are bound to collapse.

The BBC has termed Chandigarh the ‘Most Liveable City’ which it is — well-planned, clean environment and organised traffic. But chinks have appeared in most of these areas and if we have to retain the tag given by BBC, my two wishes have to come true quickly, to enable me to continue to proclaim, ‘I will not leave Chandigarh for the world’. (Manmohan Lal Sarin is a Senior Advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court and has previously held the posts of Advocate General in both Punjab and Haryana states. He is also president of Alliance Francaise Le Corbusier de Chandigarh since 1990)

‘Better quality placements for students’

To promote inclusive growth and all-round development of students, Panjab University has set a vision towards augmenting and strengthening Society-Academia-Industry (SAI) relationship and for overall recognition of innovation and invention.

Under the research, innovation and deliverables, I am striving to stimulate the faculty to submit proposals for funding to agencies, industry and ministries of government. Already 40 industry-ready products are available and many prototypes exist. For their showcase, a ‘Deliverable Gallery’ will be set up and the space is already earmarked. We will carry out market assessment of the products for the market potential.

There is a plan of consolidation of centres involved in entrepreneurial and incubation activities under one roof so that anyone from the industry can avail of these facilities. In 2019, PU, through its recently DST sanctioned Technology Enabling Centre, will highlight technologies being developed in different laboratories and focus on application and futuristic research.

The vision is to strengthen the recently set-up Institution Innovation Council (IIC) to meet the much-needed requirement of the industry and to foster design and innovation culture among students and faculty so that innovative ideas can be transformed into products. Better and quality placements and internships for students through industry partnership and entrepreneurship and attracting international students for contribution to overall world economy is also my endeavour. (Prof Raj Kumar is V-C, Panjab University)

‘More land to give PGI breathing space, affordable health care for poor patients’

We are all excited and enthusiastic to usher in 2019 and this is also the time to sit back and gather our thoughts ahead of the New Year. We will continue efforts towards improving the patient experience and decongestion of outpatient departments of PGI by ensuring increase in online registration, electronic display. We are also working on electronic medical records to ensure rapid patient flow and secure encrypted data storage. We aim to recruit additional highly qualified faculty members to ensure that our doctor-patient ratio is optimum, and our staff is capable of handling the ever-increasing workload. Soon, we aim to make the highly ambitious project — a new 250-bedded hospital — functional that would house several departments such as radiotherapy, hepatology, ENT and endocrinology. Our efforts to get 50 acres of land at Sarangpur continue, which will provide breathing space to PGI for next 25 years. Our wish list cannot be complete without aiming for affordable health care for our poor patients, which we have partly achieved by negotiating and fixing costs of implants and stents in PGI. We will continue to work on this goal to ensure delivery of state-of-the-art, affordable health care services to our patients. (Professor Jagat Ram is director, PGIMER)

SSP Chandigarh IPS Nilambari Jagadale at UT Police headquarters in Sector 9, Chandigarh.

‘Four community policing projects my priority’

Four projects in the category of community policing are on my wish list for 2019. First: a skill development project for 480 adults. Second: a project of How to Improve Quality of Life for 300 slum dwellers between the age group of 12 and 18 years with the association of Society for Promotion Of Youth and Masses (SPYM). Third: E-beat books, in which 165 computer tablets will be given to in-charge of 165 police beats. Fourth: Expending the self-defence courses for girls and women under SWAYAM at all levels.
I am happy to share that the Central government has cleared a skill development project for 480 children of Chandigarh recently and we will start it in the first month of 2019. Under the skill development project, 480 children whose parents are engaged in criminal activities will be trained in professional courses, including beauty parlour therapists, general duty assistants in hospitals, retail store assistants, food and beverage assistants. Not only training, we will also provide placements to them in appropriate places. For the project to teach 300 slum dwellers, ‘How to improve quality of life’, I have selected Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, Dhanas and Phase-2, Ramdarbar in Industrial Area. These 300 adults — boys and girls — will be motivated to improve their quality of life by staying away from drugs, criminal activities and living in clean, hygienic surroundings. The e-beat books will not only help the police department, but will also facilitate the general public. I wish to take self-defence courses for girls and women to every house this year. (Nilambari Vijay Jagdale is SSP, Chandigarh)

Kanupriya at Panjab University.

‘Join the struggle against exploitation & discrimination’

I wish all of us join the struggle against exploitation and discrimination in our society. I wish we realise neither 2019 nor 2019 elections are going to bring any progress in our lives. People have been fighting and striving hard every single day to live and realise their dreams, rather than waiting for those wishes to be granted by someone else. Apparently, the world is NOT a wish-granting factory (John Green).
(Kanupriya is Panjab University Student Council president)

City-based artist Diwan Manna.

‘Chandigarh requires an international art event ‘

Chandigarh has quite a few local and national events to engage the citizens. The city now requires an international art event with international participation and audience. It could be a biennale with special focus on art/architecture and design or an annual feature of this kind. We should stop living in the past in a modern city built with a futuristic vision. We have the example of the Kochi Muziris Biennale being successfully held for the last six years, attracting lakhs of visitors providing livelihood to thousands of residents apart from becoming the face of India in the world of art globally.

Chandigarh does not attract sufficient number of tourists despite its international brand value. Rock Garden alone attracts approximately one lakh visitors a month whereas the much-talked about Capitol Complex, with its recently acquired World Heritage Site tag, may not be getting more than two thousand in the same period. To keep pace with the times we live in, we also urgently need to build a museum of contemporary art to augment the already existing city museum. There is no space in the city to showcase artworks created with new mediums and contemporary idiom such as installation and video art.

Chandigarh has just five to six buildings created by Corbusier located in controlled and not openly accessible areas. Therefore one wishes for public artworks of a monumental scale that could acquire an iconic status such as Cloud Gate in Chicago, by India-born British artist Anish Kapoor. Chandigarh provides huge amounts of money to the Centre as taxes. It is time to ask for a handsome gift in return which will further help generate more income. It would be great to have a combination of legends like Corbusier, Nek Chand and Anish Kapoor (or any such artist of iconic stature) supplemented with a biennale to make the city thrive with an art activity of international value. Chandigarh is meant to be a world city. We have the basics right but need someone at the top to steer it into its rightful futuristic place in the world. (Diwan Manna is an artist & Chairperson, Punjab Lalit Kala Akademi)

‘We must work to make India strongest nation’

The New Year is like a blank diary; let us resolve to write on each page how we can help each Indian to have access to at least, roti, kapda, makaan, education and good health. We, as citizens, must work with the government and support it to make our country the strongest nation in the world. (Sanjay Tandon is President, Bharatiya Janata Party, Chandigarh)

Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry

‘Build equitable relationship between the city & its arts, support for the arts’

My wish list for the city could be endless, but I will restrict it to the arts. Chandigarh is always abuzz with festivals and workshops, but what it needs is a curatorial thrust and a vision, making each project thought-through, rather than sporadic. Why has nothing been conceived on the scale of the Serendipity Festival, Kochi Biennale or The Jaipur Literature Festival? Does the ‘dare’ and the ‘dash’ and risk to ‘go over the edge’ not exist in the city? Chandigarh has wonderful open spaces that could lead to an explosion of ideas and imaginative ventures, if we build an equitable relationship between the city and its arts.

Patronage has always existed in the city, but it needs to relate to economic and political issues such as globalisation, growth in privatisation, relationship with multinationals and even the future of democracy and life on the planet. One may wonder how these issues affect you in your daily work, but I believe that building a support for the arts plays a broader role in social survival. It is not only about raising money or seeking short-term sponsorship, but this interaction opens up channels of communication, human connections, reflections and critiques across conventional boundaries of power, expertise, culture and generations.

It is not always a question of just funding, but an effort to develop mutual understanding between the arts and the commercial world, with the aim to deepen a self-understanding of the world. Art is not a question of giving people a little pleasure in their time off. It is also a matter of holding together a civilisation. (Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry, is a theatre director, a Padma Shri recipient)

‘View heritage as opportunity’

In December 1959, Le Corbusier started his Statute of the Land outlining the vision of the city with the words, “Chandigarh is a city offering all amenities of life to the poorest of poor of its citizens to live a life of dignity.” True words but how many of us actually cherish the city and the quality of life it provides us? We are at the cusp of many changes that could spell the difference between imminent doom and holistic development. Rather than thinking of the heritage character of the city as an impediment to progress, we should realise all the opportunities it provides us. In the coming year, I hope to see more cohesion between all stakeholders and agencies involved in the development of the city in all areas. The citizens need to realise their role in the entire process and become more proactive not just in demanding their rights, but also in carrying out their duties.

If we all start with small changes like garbage segregation, minimising littering, following traffic rules and generally being considerate to our city and fellow residents, then much can be achieved. And yes, I hope more people take advantage of the developing art and cultural scene of the city and visit the museums with friends and family.

As Corbusier summarised, “One has the Statute of the Land. It is like seed. What can be grown from the seed? It is in the hand of the administrators.” Read all of us together. (Deepika Gandhi is Director, Le Corbusier Centre, Chandigarh & Chandigarh Architecture Museum)

Former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal. ( Source: Express photo by Praveen Khanna )

‘Chandigarh must fast regain its lost reputation of a safe city’

In the year 2019, I would want Chandigarh to be able to successfully tackle the myriad problems it is at present beset with. There is a lack of direction and well-considered, clear and precise policy on a host of issues. Casual approach to parking hassles, cleanliness, demand of additional construction in dwelling units and commercial/ industrial properties has only compounded each problem. Also, I would like to see in place a sound grievances redressal mechanism for the citizens. The anachronistic VIP and ‘maai baap’ culture should have no place in society. Chandigarh must fast regain its lost reputation of a safe city. The Street Vendors Act also ought to be implemented thoughtfully without creating the present chaos. I would wish to see that the aesthetic character of sector markets is not violated and beautification of all markets is taken up with murals, small water features, adequate parking and modern public conveniences. Vending zones need to spread over in a well-planned manner, also meeting the needs of some southern sectors that have no markets.

The long-delayed slum clearance, I wish to be expedited. Work on building a world-class railway station should start in 2019 and I wish a veritably smart city becomes a reality. A metro is also much-needed. Businesses and industry need a conducive environment to contribute to Chandigarh’s economy. Last but not least, the youth must be provided job avenues and sportpersons ought to be appropriately encouraged to excel. (Pawan Kumar Bansal is former railway minister)

‘Education for all children in their mother tongue’

More than 12 villages are still alive in Chandigarh where Panjabi language is widely spoken and Punjabiyat is practised. But the Chandigarh Administration does not have Punjabi or Hindi as the official language, as English rules the city and the villages. A logical wish for Chandigarh would be education for all children in their mother tongue till Class XII.

The Education Department of Chandigarh has no specific provision for this as Punjabi is introduced in Class IV, and there is an option to drop the language in Class VIII. Knowingly or unknowingly whoever drops Punjabi in Class VIII will be disqualified to get jobs in the state of Punjab because studying Panjabi language till Class X is compulsory to get a job in Punjab. Another logical wish is to have a residential school for children from different strata of society of Punjab and Haryana, as it is the capital city of both states. (Panditrao Dharenavar, Assistant Professor, PG Govt College, Sector 46, Chandigarh)

‘The strains on city must be reduced’

Chandigarh is facing challenges at multiple levels. Initially designed as an intimate, small city with a limited population, the city is poised to become a mega city. This has caused all kinds of strains. The periphery of Chandigarh has grown in size, and there seems to be hardly any plan in place to integrate it with the main city. Better transport facilities along with pucca housing for the those currently living in slums in the bordering villages can take the pressure off. Also, the traffic volume has grown exponentially. It is time that the city planners think of devising a mix of underpasses, elevated corridors and monorail system for the city.

The city has seen mushrooming of coaching centres. The city administration should build hostels for students who come from neighbouring states. The private paying guest accommodation is inadequate and the young students need to be looked after. Panjab University and PEC are two premier educational institutions of the city. Both these institutions need be owned by the Centre to meet their financial needs. The government schools of Chandigarh have given up their role to provide quality education. The results of these schools have been dismal over the last few years. The pressure on PGI is unending. It is time that primary and secondary level health centres are elevated to the next level. The cultural scene of Chandigarh is focused around Tagore Theatre and it is time that the city has at least two more auditoriums on the outskirts of the city. The main city is already congested and vendors need be given special zones or pockets to sell their goods and the rehri markets should be moved to the outskirts. (Akshaya Kumar is a professor of English at Panjab University & former president, PUTA)

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