“Buildings and roads alone do not make a city,” said Balbir Singh Malik, a former government employee, at a press conference at Museo Camera museum Saturday. With the Haryana Assembly elections approaching, a group of professionals and experts have pooled in their expertise for a Citizens’ Charter of Demands, with a focus on the seats of Gurgaon and Badshahpur. Listing 11 areas of focus, the charter would be sent to each contesting candidate in the two seats to derive a commitment from them that it would be fulfilled.
“Gurgaon is a planning disaster. Even smaller cities are better planned,” said Sarika Panda, an architect, demanding a public consultation process for the Master Plan of 2030, and fixing a permanent deadline for it. Education and healthcare were among issues discussed. “In the past few decades, there has been a neglect of government schools and private schools have cropped up,” said Malik, demanding that government schools in all sectors of Gurgaon and four district-level hospitals be set up, along with community health centres.
Highlighting environmental degradation and its link to worsening water and air, the group demanded that the Aravallis be declared protected under the Punjab Land Protection Act, to stop construction work there. “If Aravallis suffer degradation, the city will become unlivable,” said Arti Jaiman, a former journalist.
“Every year, groundwater level in Gurgaon drops by 2 metres… Rainwater harvesting is key,” said Khushpar Dahiya, a representative of the Gurgaon Water Forum. Kalpana Viswanath from Safety Pin NGO demanded more walkable spaces with adequate lighting and better public transport with last-mile connectivity to ensure safe mobility of women.
Shubhra Puri from Gurgaon First NGO emphasised on a decentralised system of waste management. Ishraq Thameem, a former corporate sector professional, highlighted that there was a lack of places of worship for minority communities.
Nisha Singh, a city councillor, said that “over the last five years, the MCG has been weakened by taking away the funds and functions”. She also demanded that vacant posts be filled.