Study tour: Not just Goa, Chandigarh councillors decide to pack bags for Mumbai too
Amid opposition from AAP councillors, Congress, BJP and SAD councillors unite to give the go-ahead to the Goa tour, while adding Mumbai to the itinerary and extending it from four to six days
Taking up the controversial study tour to Goa at the MC House meeting on Tuesday, majority of councillors not only decided to give it the go-ahead, but even added Mumbai as another destination, bumping up its ₹14-lakh cost further.
While the agenda before the House was to visit the solid waste processing plant in Goa; the Congress, BJP and SAD councillors came together to add Mumbai to the tour and extended the tour’s duration from originally proposed four days to six days, despite opposition from AAP councillors.
The tour, on the cost of public exchequer, will not be first one to study solid waste processing plants.
In the last 16 years, councillors have already toured Germany, Austria, Italy, Coimbatore, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai and Ahmedabad to study their advancements in waste processing.
Even the MC commissioner and chief engineer had recently visited solid waste processing plants in different cities, including Mumbai.
During the debate over the issue, BJP councillor Kanwarjit Singh Rana suggested, “The tour should have at least one more night stay in Goa.”
Later when Congress councillor Gupreet Singh Gabbi suggested that Mumbai be added to the tour, Rana supported the idea: “We should also visit Mumbai for two nights as the plant there is also working efficiently.”
Backing the tour, BJP councillor Maheshinder Singh Sidhu said, “We learn a lot from these tours. We should take them positively. Even media should highlight this issue in that manner.”
Councillors proposed even more destinations, with Congress councillor Jasbir Singh saying, “We should also think of Singapore.” Another councillor was heard asking Thailand to be added to the itinerary, while a woman councillor even asked that their husbands be allowed to accompany them.
AAP says no to tour
AAP councillor vociferously opposed the tour proposal. Leader of opposition and AAP councillor Yogesh Dhingra said, “Many tours have been undertaken earlier, but no result came out of them. What is the use of such tours as a mountain of garbage can still be seen at the Dadumajra dumping ground?”
Chandigarh AAP president Prem Garg later said, “I will ask AAP councillors not to go on the tour. Goa is not known for its solid waste management processes. It is waste of public money.”
Waste processing solutions already in works: MC chief
During the debate, MC commissioner Anindita Mitra informed the House that IIT Ropar was in advanced stages of preparing a detailed project report (DPR) and request for proposal (RFP) for a new integrated processing plant.
MC in 2021 had given the task of preparing a DPR and RFP for a new integrated solid waste processing plant to IIT Ropar.
She also shared that the existing solid waste processing plant in Sector 25 will be upgraded by November this year and will process more than 80% of the daily waste generated in the city.
For processing the horticulture waste, a plant will be ready by November, Mitra said, adding that the processing of sanitary and hazardous waste had already started through private firms.
MC to lodge FIRs against illegal street vendors
After complaints from MC councillors against unauthorised street vendors operating in their wards, the civic body decided to not only issue challans against violators but also lodge FIRs against them. Municipal commissioner Anindita Mitra issued directions to the enforcement staff in this regard during the MC House meeting.
Councillors from across party lines raised serious allegations at the meeting against the enforcement staff and criticised MC for failing to control the menace of unauthorised street vendors across the city.
During the debate, AAP councillors raised questions on the attitude of enforcement wing officials. Congress and AAP councillors also accused MC staff of extorting street vendors and instigating them to set up illegal establishments.
Congress councillor Sachin Galav, said, “The area around PGI, PEC and Sector 11 has a large number of illegal vendors. In one case, three people have set up their establishments using one licence.”
A commotion was witnessed as soon as the meeting started as Congress councillors raised the issue of cows affected by lumpy skin disease being left out on the roads by their owners. Congress councillor Gurpreet Singh Gappi, said, “We are not doing anything to stop the owners of neighbouring states who are leaving cows affected by lumpy skin disease (LSD) in the city.”
Mitra said full care is being taken at the city’s gaushalas to protect cows from the disease and they are being given proper treatment. BJP councillor Kanwar Rana said that a committee should be form to take a call on the issue.
Soon after this, AAP and Congress councillors cornered the BJP on alleged corruption in issuing the contract for sweeping roads in southern sectors to Lions Company Limited. AAP councillors demanded termination of the contract.
Over 77k sq ft encroached by Punjab, Hry CM residences: MC
The Punjab chief minister’s residence complex has encroached upon more than 35,000 square feet of MC land and Haryana chief minister’s residence complex another 42,000 square feet.
MC submitted these details before the MC General House in reply to a question by BJP councillor Maheshinder Singh Sidhu.
As per MC’s reply, Punjab CM’s residence complex has encroached the V-5 road with iron gates, approximately 10,000 square feet black top area of V-5 road and 8,000 square feet of road berm/footpath area. The encroached land also includes 17,820 square feet of black top V-6 road area.
On Sidhu’s question about encroachments made by the Haryana CM’s residence complex, MC stated that it had also encroached the V-5 road with iron gates. Also, 12,000 square feet of black top area of V-5 road has been encroached upon. Around 10,200 square feet of road berm/footpath area and sides of House Numbers 20 and 32 have been blocked with iron gate and fencing.
Demanding action against the encroachments, Sidhu said, “If public puts a single tent on a footpath, it is removed in no time, but here whole green belts are encroached. The Punjab CM’s helicopter lands and takes off from Rajendra Park, which is cordoned off for this, while the Haryana CM lands at the Chandigarh airport.”
Sidhu also claimed that MC’s response to his queries was not complete. “I had also asked about encroachments in green areas. The commissioner has asked the officials concerned to provide the information in the next House meeting,” he said.