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Ludhiana: After people protest, proposal to convert 5 lush green parks into parking lots rejected

The residents had said they would form human chains around the parks if the MC went ahead with the proposal.

Ludhiana parks, Ludhiana parking lots, Ludhiana residents protest, indian express One of the parks in Sarabha Nagar (near the church) that was to be converted into a parking lot. (Express)

A proposal by Ludhiana Municipal Corporation to convert five lush green parks in the city into parking lots for vehicles was rejected during the House meeting Monday, following a protest by city residents.

Despite the Punjab government’s call for planting more trees for the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the Congress-ruled civic body had proposed to convert the five parks in posh localities of the city into ‘stilt parking lots’.

According to the proposal, the parking lots would first be created underground or on the ground floor, and then landscaping would be done on the upper floor. However, city residents objected to the proposal, as it would mean the chopping of existing fully-grown trees and greenery in these parks.

“It is being done to solve parking problem in the city. Ludhiana is grappling with the problem of growing number of cars and there is no space to park them. Hence, five parks — two in Sarabha Nagar (near the church and the main market), Model Town near Gol Market park, BRS Nagar D-block and another one in Ghumar Mandi — will be converted into parking lots,” the proposal read.

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Women councillors during protest. (Gurmeet Singh)

But the city residents started a “call your councillor” campaign on social media, calling their respective area councillors to oppose the conversion.

They also said that Ludhiana was already grappling with pollution and recently, nearly 2,000 trees were butchered for the elevated road project on Ferozepur road. The residents said they would form human chains around the parks if the MC went ahead with the proposal.

During Monday’s meeting, the proposal was opposed by SAD leader of opposition Harbhajan Singh Dang and Congress Councillor Mamta Ashu in unison, who said that the MC needs to find other empty spaces for parking lots. Following this, Mayor Balkar Singh Sandhu announced that the proposal has been rejected and that the parks will not be destroyed.

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“Already there is hardly any greenery in Ludhiana. We cannot convert every place into concrete structures. Sarabha Nagar is one of the few green areas left in the city. People have nurtured trees here for decades,” said Dang.

Mamta Ashu said, “People are opposing it and they are right. Parks are public places where people come to breathe. Also, it is illegal to convert green belts into something commercial,” she said.

A senior retired engineer from the civic body told The Indian Express that a similar project was initiated in Jalandhar, which proved to be a bad idea. “People moved court when work started because it is illegal and no law allows the MC to change land use of green belts for commercial purpose. It was shelved. The MC official who conceived this idea doesn’t know MC laws then,” he said.

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Congress MLAs Rakesh Pandey and Surinder Dawar lashed out at their own party Mayor Balkar Sandhu and said that despite their own government being in power, no development works are being carried out in their areas. “There is no solution to any problem- roads, water, stray cattle, stray dogs,” said Pandey.

The House meeting ended in a scuffle as Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) councillor Harvinder Singh Kaler allegedly snatched the microphone of MC secretary Tajinder Singh Panchhi. Harvinder allegedly made “inappropriate” remarks about the mayor, when they had started reading the agenda. In protest, the MC officials stood up from the seats and the mayor also left.

First published on: 24-09-2019 at 03:49:51 am
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