Jalandhar: Jalandhar (West)-the lone urban reserve constituency of district Jalandhar despite being situated in city’s urban belt has been crying for attention for the last many years, all thanks to lack of basic amenities.
A hub of region’s biggest leather tanning and sports goods industry, Jalandhar (West) seat has been slow on development, given the response of the public and the problems faced by them.
One of the major troubles was poor condition of roads and on-going work of sewerage, this despite the fact that every year a major chunk of funds amounting to crores was spent on reconstructing the roads and lanes alone. All it took to wash away the reconstructed and patch work done roads was 30-minutes of heavy rain.
“The entire district knows how 120 ft road gets submerged in rain water with even 15-minute rainfall. Sadly, this problem has not been addressed till date, leaving the local people with no option but to find ways of commuting in knee deep water”, said a group of elderly residents of Bhargo Camp.
Another major eyesore in the constituency was the dug up four lane Jalandhar-Kapurthala road. The Punjab government first announced to construct the road, which was dug up two years ago but later left the project midway.
“We have been left in a lurch. Owing to the dug up road, our business was badly affected. It has been two years, since this road was dug up. The entire area remains covered with a thick blanket of dust, making it difficult for us to even commute on this stretch”,said a group of shopkeepers.
Recently, Sushil Rinku, a congress councillor and a strong contender from Jalandhar (West) seat held a protest, where Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh had announced to construct the road on priority. The shopkeeper association and local residents had also joined the protest.
Rinku said that what could be more surprising than the fact that senior BJP leader and cabinet minister Chuni Lal Bhagat was an MLA from Jalandhar (West). “Such a tall BJP leader hails from this area and also has a business here but the sorry state of affairs in the constituency has a different picture to tell”, he said.
As some residents also pointed out that the lone Government Institute of Leather and Footwear Technology in Jalandhar (West) constituency was also lying in shambles. “Jalandhar (West) is a reserve constituency with a leading population of Bhagats and Ravidassia community. A majority of the students from this community avail subsidized training in leather tanning and footwear technology but with zero facilities”,said residents of Model House.
Even the hostel of the leather and footwear technology situated on Ravidass Chowk was nothing short of haunted house. “A few years ago, a part of the hostel building was illegally occupied by the police, where they were currently running the police station. The hostel building not only gets inundated during rains but also faces filth, as a garbage dump was situated next to it”, the residents added.
Notably, the residents also pointed out that no major skill development centre or ITI was set up by the minister.“A Skill Development Centre planned at a cost of Rs 10 crore, whose foundation stone was laid on April 24 was scrapped. Chuni Lal and BJP Punjab President Vijay Sampla had launched the project with much fanfare, which has now turned into an abandoned site”, Rinku said.
Residents also pointed out that liquor and drugs mafia was also major cause of concern in the constituency. A month ago, a youth was done to death allegedly by the liquor mafia, leading to widespread protests by the locals. However, contrary to this, Mahinder Bhagat, the son of Chuni Lal Bhagat said, “People are very happy with the development work in our constituency. It is for first time ever that development projects worth Rs 100 crore was started in Jalandhar (West) out of which Rs 65 crore project was currently going on. Almost 90 percent of development work was complete in the constituency.” Mahinder Bhagat also said that the four lane Jalandhar-Kapurthala road project was delayed but work has started and it would be completed by December 30. “The Jalandhar-Kapurthala four laning project was a joint venture of National Highway Authority of India and Municipal Corporation, which got delayed due to some technical reasons”, he said, adding that Rs 1.70 crore was being spent on 120 ft road.
It is pertinent to mention here that out of the total1.5 lakh voters nearly 50 percent belonged to the Scheduled Castes (SC) category. The Jalandhar West constituency has an equal number of Bhagat and Ravidassia community while the Valmikis were close to 10,000 plus. Around 5000 were the Jatt Sikh community members in the constituency.
Bhagat Chuni Lal has won from this seat with 48,207 votes defeating Suman Kaypee who secured 36864 votes. Bhagat Chuni Lal has remained an MLA from this constituency in the year 1997, 2007 and 2012.
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