Just what will it take for the Gurgaon Administration to wake up – to get it? Will it only be when the City is over-run by angry residents, demanding that basic civic (living) amenities – like water and power – are delivered consistently? Today we have the poorest delivery. And there has been no improvement in supply, year on year.
The CM is oblivious - he is on a ‘Shining Haryana’ trip, at a new place every week. He has promised multiple Gurgaons – even Gurgaon plus – when even this ‘original’ city’s residents are denied their daily water. For 2 years in a row the Haryana Power Minister has been declaring “No Power Cuts this Summer’, well before each summer. The DHBVN Chief has joined the chorus, and believes that power supply is actually very good this year. They are clearly living in a different world. And will be brought down (or up) to earth soon.
The problem is not only in the MCG and HUDA areas. Recently DLF Phase III residents had to come out on the streets, demanding just regular water supply ! DLF III was not built yesterday. Even after decades, DLF cannot quench the thirst of its residents – it is more busy quenching that of real estate speculators. This prime developer is busy investing in Metros, and Highways (Rs. 500 crores +) that criss-cross its prime commercial and residential estates (with the help of HUDA), with just one objective in mind – to up the lease and purchase prices of its properties. It is the future sale that is important - the current residents be damned. Everything else has a higher priority than the delivery of water and power. Other private developers have of course just put their hands up, after putting on fat at their residents’expense – first on purchase, then on change of land use and common areas’ sale, and now on maintenance. This has been made possible by a nudge and a wink from the Administration – the Town & Country Planning (TCP) department this time.
Unfortunately the Administration and State agencies (like DHBVN) are not even willing to first assess the correct demand for resources in the City. They have actually been saved by tubewells (for water) and gensets (for power). The actual demand, if these were not present, would be close to double the current ‘estimates’. Clearly the future residents should be resigned to live on only water tankers and gensets. Diesel smog, of the highest order in India, is here to stay. That will be our legacy to our Millennial children.
Meanwhile the residents have been forced to become activists. One by one, the maintenance of condominiums is being taken over by the RWAs, from the builders. The patience of the common resident has been tested to the hilt, on all fronts.
Tokenism is the defacto answer to any civic or social problem – and now even to street-protests. The Administration’s glib response is to quickly promise resolution, take token action to placate the angry residents, and then ignore – hoping that the same residents will not come out on the streets so easily again.
Tokenism can be seen in:
the relocation of liquor vends (only 1);
the setting up of public toilets (a few installed, since removed);
the construction of new EWS flats (one-off just started – while the constructed ones have been deliberately kept empty, for ‘windfall gains’);
the increase in capacity of the Waste Treatment Plant at Bandhwari (nothing done yet, so waste is lying all around, and seeping deep into the ground);
the building of bus stops (none yet, though the City Bus service has completed a year);
the regularization of colonies, or at least providing their residents with basic civic services (recommendations sent to Chandigarh over
a year ago);
the constructing of hundreds of water harvesting sites (just a few set up, and then left un-maintained);
the setting up and upgrade of sector wise power sub-stations (no builder, except DLF, has taken any action, despite EDCs and IDCs collected decades earlier for this, by TCP and all builders);
the setting up of organized parking sites across the City (a few set up, and soon disbanded);
the approval of a fare/rate chart for autos (pending in Chandigarh, like almost every decision, for years !).
A ‘new’ Civic Hospital has been lying as a museum piece for years too (meanwhile private hospitality hospitals have mushroomed – or maybe that was the plan). The Hero Honda Chowk FOB is a structure that has been under discussion for over a decade (meanwhile hundreds have died trying to cross the Highway). And of course the mega announcement was of the MCG set up, and the election of Councillors years ago (MCG has not been able to take over even the water supply in its limited area - from PHE, let alone taking over the City’s maintenance from HUDA and private builder areas).
Each of these ‘areas’ has been waiting for effective action and closure for years – actions that were promised to be taken ‘immediately’, at a point of time. Even over the past few months there has been talk of the NCR Water Canal now being open for Gurgaon, of a new Water Treatment Plant being ready for use, of huge investments in new power sub-stations and the finalization of power purchase from private suppliers. This summer was promised to be a water and power bonanza for Gurgaon residents. We are again left facing the heat.
It is time the residents of this City put up a simple charter to the local Administration and the CM. Either deliver us water and power, and pick up garbage daily, or stop all construction and development in Gurgaon II (new sectors 58 to 115). It is bad enough that we make the current families live in some last millennium conditions; why should future residents also have to face that problem from the first day? For a City that contributes half of the State’s finances, it is pathetic that its residents need to take to the streets to get their basic civic facilities/amenities/services.
What Millennium City/living is this? It's time to let off steam...and make the Administration
feel the heat.
DLF has at least taken some resident-friendly actions in some of its sectors. It can set a further example. In any of its Phases, in flats or houses, it should arrange for a specified quantity of water through tankers, free of cost, where supply has been disrupted. On power, each of its residents should be offered a full power-back option, at a reasonable
cost – and within a reasonable period.