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Flamboyant fountains draining UT exchequer?

The four corners of Industrial Area will soon boast of extravagant fountains,all set to come up at a cost of Rs 53 lakh-Rs 13.25 lakh per piece.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
April 21, 2009 3:09:26 am

The four corners of Industrial Area will soon boast of extravagant fountains,all set to come up at a cost of Rs 53 lakh — Rs 13.25 lakh per piece. While construction of two of the ‘architectural marvels’ is already nearing completion,work on the other two is expected to start soon.

“The decision to construct waterfall fountains was taken during a joint coordination committee meeting of the Administration and Municipal Corporation held last year. In fact,the UT Advisor himself had approved the concept of having eye-catching structures at the entrance of Industrial Area to add to the beauty of the city,” said an MC official.

Water to the fountains would be sourced from a supply line of fresh water present in the area. The MC official clarified that there will be no wastage of water as it would be recycled.

But the plan has its fair share of detractors who believe the money could have been spent on better things.

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‘A distraction for motorists’
“If the Administration is so concerned about beautification why doesn’t it develop Hallomajra,which presents a filthy picture of the city right upon the entrance? Such distractive structures,that too on a highway,are extremely dangerous for motorists. What is more important — a motorist’s safety or fountains? Rather than spending the residents’ hard-earned money on constructing and fountains,the Administration should concentrate on improving the state of villages on the city’s periphery,” said Harman S Sidhu,president of Arrive Safe,an NGO which spreads awareness on road safety.

Rupinder Singh,who has been associated with road safety programmes in Chandigarh and New Zealand,agreed: “Distraction on roads is an extremely potent factor causing accidents. Such structures on the roadside,particularly near roundabouts,are bound to distract motorists. Nowhere in the world are such distractions allowed on roads. I can’t imagine from where the UT Administration gets such ideas.”

‘A complete waste of resources’
H S Johal,president of the Environmental Society of Punjab,said: “Constructing fountains at such a high cost is an utter waste of money. Water is already a scarce commodity and should be preserved. The resources could have been used for developing infrastructure in the city. The Sukhna Lake is dying a slow death but no one is bothered about that. The cash could be used to improve the condition of slumdwellers.”

Surinder Bagha from the Saakar Foundation said that the area of the water body in the fountain is huge. “In times when water is in short supply and the existing water bodies are not being maintained properly,there is no sense in constructing more fountains. There are other ways to beautify the city — the Administration can promote art in the form of murals and sculptures in the city.”

Lessons not learnt?
This is not the first time the Administration finds itself fighting off allegations of extravagance. The new lake at Sector 42,which came up at a whopping cost of over Rs. 3.2 crore,is literally draining the UT exchequer. Every time a religious sect performs a ritual at the lake,it has to be emptied and refilled.

Covering all bases in Industrial Area
* Near the Poultry Farm roundabout on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur highway
* On the road dividing Industrial Area Phase-I and II,adjacent to the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation’s depot in Industrial Area Phase-I
* Near PVR Cinemas
* At the entrance to Industrial Area Phase-II

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