Thursday, August 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

40-yr-old tractors still in service
Polluting Holy City of Amritsar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 21
Weaponry used during the Indo-China and Indo-Pak wars may have found its way into museums, but most of the tractors and lorries bought in 1962 and 1965 for the removal of garbage here are still on the road, emanating pollution.

Nobody has bothered to replace them in the past 40 years though they have outlived their lives much earlier. Though the authorities concerned attribute the state of affairs to the financial crunch, a whopping Rs 46 lakh was spent on the maintenance of 150 vehicles belonging to the corporation last year.

According to official record available with The Tribune, at least six Massey Ferguson tractors still in service were purchased between 1962 and 1965. These are PNA 7559 (1962), PNA 7560 (1962), PNA 8228 (1963), PNA 8540 (1964), PNA 9386 (1965) and PNA 9387 (1965). As many as four tractors are of the 1973 model. No efforts were made to replace these pollution-creating vehicles in the past four decades.

Interestingly, the vehicles which were purchased in 1962 and 1965 do not figure in the list of 19 vehicles (non-working condition) prepared by the corporation to be condemned.

Due to lack of proper machinery required by the sanitation wing of the corporation, the filth emanates a foul smell in different parts of the city. Mounds of garbage and stray cattle foraging these dumps are a common sight.

Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, was candid in admitting the poor state of affairs in this ancient city, which is visited by VVIPs due to its heritage significance.

He also admitted that the corporation was passing through a critical phase due to a financial crunch.

The bad financial health of the Municipal Corporation can be gauged from the fact that at least 84 per cent of its total budget of Rs 114 crore has to be spent on committed liabilities, including salaries of the staff, leaving only 16 per cent for sanitation and other works.

He stressed the need for purchasing passing more vehicles and replacing ‘very old’ ones.

The scenario was narrated to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his wife, Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, by Mr R.L. Bhatia, a veteran Congress leader. Ms Preneet Kaur was shocked to learn that four-decade-old vehicles are still being used for sanitation work.

The Chief Minister promised to senior Congress leaders to release sufficient funds to cope-up with the problems being faced by the Municipal Corporation.


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