The Punjab and Haryana High Court came down heavily on the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation on Friday for failing to address civic problems and said that the MC officials must carry out a “surgical strike” against issues being faced by residents and not just hold meetings to have coffee.
While addressing officials who had been summoned to court, the single-judge bench of Justice Amit Rawal said they were blindfolded and sleeping like Kumbhkaran. “You need to go to Burail jail. That’s the only way,” said the judge while commenting on the official inaction against encroachments in the city. He even cited the example of encroachment of space, including verandah, around Pal Dhaba by its owners.
The single bench passed strictures against the MC on issues like encroachment by hawkers, road carpeting and stray dogs during the hearing of a case seeking compliance of directions issued by the High Court in 2017 regarding “removal of encroachment from the road in Chandigarh to Kansal and Kansal to Kaimbwala strictly and setting up of the Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) and to erect strong pillars on both sides of Patiala Ki Rao”.
“I cannot sit as a mute spectator and let Chandigarh be ruined like this,” said Justice Rawal. “Why should the court monitor such issues. We are here for other purposes like justice. It has been years since any (officer) has been convicted (for non-compliance) of court orders. Let it begin from my court.”
The observations were made in the presence of senior MC Chandigarh officials, including Joint Commissioner Tejdeep Singh Siani as well as those of the Punjab government who had been summoned by the High Court in an order passed on September 7 where it had noted that the situation was grave and officials at the helm of affairs were not doing their duties.
Observing that no action was being taken against the hawkers seen on the roadsides on the entry and exit points of Chandigarh, the bench said the “face of Sector 17” had been ruined by official inaction.
“If I refer cases to the CBI, every officer will be found taking bribe,” said Justice Rawal. “Since how many years have you been making the bylaws. You challan them today and tomorrow they are there again. These people will one day start selling stuff in front of your houses,” he stated.
The bench, after the hearing, appointed advocate Sanjeev Sharma as court commissioner to monitor the compliance of court orders in the case and said that his fee would be recovered from the salaries of officials in case of non-compliance.
On the corporation’s failure to control the stray dog population in the city, the bench said all the dogs should be tied outside the houses of municipal officials, including that of Commissioner K K Yadav, and allowed to bark there.
“You do not have funds? What are you then for? Every day, the BJP and Congress are fighting. What have we come to,” said Justice Rawal and added that the corporation could be taken over by the Administration under such circumstances.
Commenting on the material being used in carpeting of roads in Chandigarh, the judge said that only tar was being put on roads that were riddled with potholes. The bench said the time has come to make use of plastic roads in the city. “What kind of road construction is being followed. Let’s dig a big hole in front of your house so that it gets filled with water and larva is born there. Why do roads get eroded every time?” he wondered.
Stating that there was no proper rainwater disposal system in the city and roads get damaged every time after rains, the bench observed that the cost of damages should be recovered from the salary of the officials. Observing that officials often go on foreign trips but learn nothing, the bench said they need to go on the Internet and learn everything instead of going on foreign tours for enjoyment.