Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh’s hometown of Patiala has slipped to the bottom of Swachh list of 434 cities appraised on parameters of cleanliness in the country. The erstwhile royal city has been placed on number 411 in the country and number 13 out of 16 cities surveyed in Punjab. The city is incidentally the hometown of not only the incumbent CM, a four-time MLA from Patiala, but also Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra and Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur has been a three-time MP from Patiala and one time ex-MLA. While city’s Mayor and SAD leader Amaninder Singh Bajaj blamed its poor performance on cleanliness parameters to lack of a solid waste management system, residents term the city as a “litter box” that needs urgent attention.
Bajaj blamed the people of the city for not cooperating with the municipal corporation. “We need land for setting up a solid waste management system. But the village residents of the village where we wanted to set up the plant protested. The cities that have done well on the list are basically those who are engaging in door-to-door collection of garbage. We have lagged behind.”
Amarinder’s former colleague and ex-Deputy Speaker, Bir Devinder Singh, another Patiala resident, blames it on SAD as well as the royal family. “This is a sad reflection on the performance of the royal family. Amarinder has been four-time MLA from town. His wife has been a three-time MP. Before them, Amarinder’s mother represented the city in Parliament. They have to share the blame,” he said.
Stating that Patiala had literally turned into a “litter bin”, Bir Devinder Singh recalled how it was a delight to live in the city. “The Mall Road was a walker’s paradise. Fountains presented a beautiful picture. Rajindra Lake presented such a view. The Law University that was once the high court of PEPSU state is in a shambles. The Baradari is in bad shape. They have destroyed a beautiful city. Amarinder has not even visited it once after becoming the Chief Minister.”
A reality check on solid waste management revealed that the MC had in 2010 identified 40 acres of land at Dudhar village for the plant. While 20 acres of land was transferred for the project, the remaining could not be transferred as the sarpanch of the Dhudhar village refused to sign the required no-objection certificate. Since then the project has been hanging fire.
Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, AAP’s suspended MP from Patiala, blamed Akalis for the city’s plight. “Roads are in bad shape, sewers are overflowing, no infrastructure has been provided by the previous government. They pumped all the money into Lambi, Badal’s constituency, and Bathinda. I am not surprised at Patiala’s performance,” he said.