Confession of Mayor and Dy. Mayor of Shimla town on New Year Eve
They blamed the Himachal Pradesh Government for not supporting them and termed it as a ‘hostile government’.
SHIMLA- Among addresses and wishes from Himachal’s minister, politicians, and public figures, the statement of the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of Shimla is worth a mention as the duo explains why they could not deliver what they had promised in the polls.
Communist Party of India (M) was given a rare chance by people of the town when Congress and Bhartiya Janata Party failed to deliver. People were fed up with two parties and experimented with an alternative at small scale democracy model – Shimla Municipal Corporation polls 2012. So, their statement is reflection of their political will power and flexibility that appears to have crept into their ideological attitude while the CPI(M) wrestled in the political battlefield.
There are plenty of critical issues such as failure to control monkey and dog population, traffic and parking chaos, and environmental issues in the city to which there is no reference in the statement. There is mention of steps taken for beautification of the town, but no words on issues like increasing dust and visual pollution in the city. Moreover, their beautification plan remained confined within a small radius around the Shimla Mall
On his Blog, Tikendar Panwar, as a joint statement with Sanjay Chauhan issued to the citizens of Shimla on the occasion of the New Year, blamed the Himachal Pradesh Government for not supporting them and termed it as a ‘hostile government’. The friction between the Congress Govt. and CPI(M) is not hidden from anyone but the duo didn’t appear to have staged much protest regarding it earlier.
Both believe that improvement has been recorded in Shimla city during their tenure of 4.5 years and that they have been working hard for best quality potable water and good sewerage utility to the people of Shimla. Cable cars rolling in the city, wi-fi hot spots have been provided, and change in the street lighting system is also taking place, they claimed.
They regret that they could have done much better if the government had supported them in their proposals and policies.
Best explanation was being in extreme minority in the SMC house.
We are just 12% in house, still we have tried to carry everyone in the MC together,
Regarding development, they blamed overturn by the successive state governments who reduced the budgetary allocation for the city.
From 45% of the expenditure the budgetary allocation has reduced to near 20% of the expenditure. The municipal finances were generated and many pilferages were checked. It is because of this reason that an unprecedented amount could be spent on developmental activities,
said the statement.
The duo claimed that 80% of the roads have been metalled and that SMC gets only 2 months time during summers for this job.
Battery operated vehicles were to run by now but because of the hostile state government we had to take the matter in the High Court,
said the statement.
The claim appears to be unjustified as quality of tarring only degraded and plenty of examples can be served to support this argument. For instance, take a look the following video:
About the water-crisis and the jaundice outbreak in Shimla that had claimed more than two dozens of lives last year, the duo said
We managed the water crisis without privatizing water, supplied water without hiring tankers. There was then this problem of water borne diseases being spread especially in Ashwani khad catchment area. The water was lifted by IPH and distributed by MC Shimla. We have stopped lifting water from there. Now the water supplied is A+ quality.
However, public has been registering regular protest over rationing of water and irregular supply. After almost an year of deadly jaundice outbreak due to contamination of drinking water supply with sewage due to alleged corruption of the contractor and administration, Shimla continue to face irregular and insufficient water supply. A huge amount continued to be wasted due to heavy leakages in supply pipelines that were repaired ages ago.
The further explained that because of the bye laws SMC was unable to provide metered water. They claimed that the bylaws are now amended and SMC should be able to provide metered water to each household.
The Shimla City is clean and better, they believe, and claimed that Shimla is hailed as one of the cleanest cities of India. However, on factual grounds, the capital city did not get a solid waste treatment plant during their tenure except proposals of high-tech facilities or to generate electricity from the plant.
As reported by Himachal Watcher on various occasions, garbage burning is widespread all over Shimla and the Corporation’s sanitation workers can be seen setting collected garbage on fire, leading to rapid air pollution.
The treatment plant in Bharyal near Tutu was turned into open landfill, which was set on fire on multiple occasions and caused huge trouble to residents of the nearby villages and Totu. The garbage smoldered for weeks and a blanket of smoke had covered Shimla. The contractor of the plant had reportedly run away with his machinery after setting the plant on fire. The plant was hardly working since its commissioning in 2012 when Himachal Watcher had pointed towards possible irregularities.
There is no improvement in the status of littering too. A solid public awareness campaign was and is still need of the time to make citizens co-operate in keeping Shimla clean. Not much was done to take steps to discourage tourists from littering.
However, the Mayor and the Dy. Mayor claims,
On solid waste and sanitation we can claim to be one amongst the best in the country. When we joined we were collecting 35 tonnes of waste which now touches 80 tonnes. Similarly the door to door waste collection has reached 85 to 90 percent from 70%.
As Shimla didn’t has its own waste treatment plant, for which the SMC blames the State Govt., huge amount of revenue was spent on daily transportion to Chandigarh, which had initially denied taking extra load on treatment plant.
Regarding the condition of public toilet facility in the city, they claimed improvement and introduction of new E toilets in the city. More that Rs. 2 crores is being spent to refurbish these toilets, they said in the statement.
The statement also claimed that over Rs 100 crore is being spent to overhaul pumps, replace pipelines, augment supply and to make the Sewage Treatment Plants functional.
For the poor, 100 houses were constructed in Dhalli and 300 more will soon be constructed in Krishna Nagar, claimed the statement.
As it appears, the two budding politicians could not go far to gain support and make the government co-operate. No major protest was registered against the State government on the part of Mayor and Dy. Mayor during their tenure. In case of jaundice outbreak in Shimla, the Mayor had lodged an FIR only after large number of cases triggered unrest in public.
Overall, there are no big transformations and city is heading toward an ugly future with unplanned and even unauthorized, over-construction. The government is further offering incentive to the owners of these structures by passing Town and Country Planning Amendment Bill to regularize them.
Certainly, CPI(M) had the opportunity to make political impression in Shimla. In the statement, the two have also invited people to provide feedback and assess them.