As Chandigarh lost the smart city race, the residents of its neighbouring town Panchkula also sank into disbelief, terming it as a loss for the entire Tricity.
Widespread resentment was seen among the residents of the Panchkula after the city had failed to send its nomination for the smart city project on time. The situation had also led to a blame game between BJP MLA Gian Chand Gupta and Mayor Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia. Thereon, the residents were placing their hopes on Chandigarh.
“After Panchkula lost the bid, we were hopeful about Chandigarh, because, its selection would have been fruitful for Panchkula, too,” said resident R P Malhotra, who had moved court seeking directions of cancellation of proceedings after Panchkula was disqualified from contesting.
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“Panchkula is more like a satellite town, which is dependent on Chandigarh for availing various facilities, be it health-care, education, employment, or business,” said Subhash Papneja, another resident.
A few residents alleged that Ludhiana was chosen over Chandigarh because of the upcoming elections in Punjab.
“Chandigarh is better than most of the cities that were selected. It is a political decision,” said Panchkula resident Rakesh Aggarwal.
Mayor Upinder Kaur Ahluwalia, however, chose to highlight ‘the less scope of industrialisation’ in Chandigarh, which could have led to the rejection.
She, however, said, “Had Chandigarh been selected, Panchkula would also have got some benefits.”
Local BJP MLA Gian Chand Gupta said,”Agar Chandigarh nahi ban paya, to Panchkula walon ko afsos karna hi nahi chahiye (If a city like Chandigarh could not make it, residents of Panchkula should not even feel sad). Chandigarh is a well-developed city, but was still rejected.”
Highlighting that Panchkula will win the race next time, Gupta added, “There is no reason for residents to be disappointed. We will take Panchkula ahead of all smart cities. There is no dearth of funds.”