Chandigarh MC in quandary over utilising Mahila Bhawan

Lack of proper planning before embarking on projects, escalating costs are among the many problems.

Chandigarh | Updated: February 6, 2014 3:12:33 pm
Construction of Mahila Bhawan underway in Sector 38, Chandigarh, on Sunday. (Jasbir Malhi) Construction of Mahila Bhawan underway in Sector 38, Chandigarh, on Sunday. (Jasbir Malhi)

In what is an example of lack of proper planning before embarking on projects, the municipal corporation (MC) is in a quandary over the utility of the multi-crore Mahila Bhawan that has been constructed in Sector 38. The centre was touted to be one of its kind for empowerment of women in the city. However, the civic body is not sure of the use the building should be put to, with most of the functions pertaining to women empowerment not under its purview.

The foundation stone of the building was laid in 2009 with much fanfare by former Union minister Ambika Soni. In fact, it was after much debate in the MC that the proposal had received approval. The councillors during that time were insistent that such a centre should be set up in the city.

The initial cost of construction of the centre was Rs 12 crore. Due to the delay in construction, the costs escalated and around Rs 20 crore has been spent. While the structure of the building is ready, the furnishing is still going on. However, there is no plan ready for putting the building to use.

Former mayor Subhash Chawla said, “During my tenure last year, I visited the building twice. The purpose of construction of the building is not clear. The councillors during the previous term had approved the building. However, the functions pertaining to women empowerment are not with the municipal corporation. The departments would either have to be shifted to the MC or other departments would need to be approached.”

Spread over an area of 1.3 acre, the Mahila Bhawan has an auditorium with a seating capacity of 275 persons, exhibition hall, library, kitchen, pantry, dining hall and gymnasium. The first floor has a number of rooms. As per the initial plan, these were to used as counselling centres for medical practitioners and sociologists who will provide career and legal advice.  A centres for performing arts such as theatrical skills and instrumental and vocal music, conference centre, fine arts incubation centre for painting, pottery, stained glass painting and sculpting, accounts office, staff room and record room were to be present. Apart from that, two entrepreneurship development centres and a research wing were to be among the other facilities available. Former mayor Kamlesh, during whose tenure the foundation stone of Mahila Bhawan was laid, said, “The aim was to have all facilities for women empowerment under one roof. Different departments can be approached and asked to set up their centres at the Mahila Bhawan.

Awareness can also be created about the issues pertaining to women by holding camps here.”

Councillor Arun Sood, in whose area the Mahila Bhawan is being constructed, said he is not aware of the utility of the building. “The construction has been going on for the past four years. The costs escalated during this time. I have visited the building, but there is no plan in place for utilising it. Crores have been spent on a project without putting in much thought to the functions,” Sood said.

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