The need for constant upgrade of urban infrastructure and extension of its coverage to smaller towns and cities is borne out by the accumulation of rainwater in Punjab’s Malwa region and adjoining Sriganganagar in Rajasthan where the Army had to be called in to drain off rainwater. Cities in Malwa have long grappled with the problem. While Bathinda is known to get inundated after a few spells of rain, Abohar gets flooded with sewage as the drains are clogged. Muktsar faces waterlogging (sem) during the rainy season. Frequent breaches in canals and distributaries into which most drains flow, also lead to accumulation of water in the area. Waterlogging after a spell of incessant rain is invariably followed by power cuts.
While attempts have been made to improve civic facilities, the persistence of the problem shows the need for more positive action. Municipal Corporations and Improvement Trusts need adequate funds at their disposal to ensure that the disruptions do not keep recurring. The operation and maintenance of sewage treatment plants as well as sewer pipes, the repair of motors and increasing their pumping capacity should be done well in time. Those responsible for substandard quality of work should be taken to task and the funds allocated for the purpose accounted for. Low-lying areas in the cities especially need more attention from the civic bodies and periodic assessment of the works.
The Centre has been laying emphasis on the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme and the state government should make the most of it to provide basic amenities to all residents instead of indulging in a blame game. The Swachh Survekshan rankings give an impetus to the urban local bodies to keep raising their standards and the focus on improving the basic quality of life everywhere should result in more efforts in this direction. It would not be out of place for the Punjab Chief Minister, who himself hails from Malwa, to accord priority to these pressing issues.
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