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A Lesson To Be Learnt!

A Lesson To Be Learnt!

In Chandigarh, a so-called planned city, 72% of the total positive cases of Covid-19 reportedly are contributed by the residents of Bapu Dham colony alone. 

It is a highly congested and unplanned colony, having 60 thousand plus residents.  

Sadly enough, the number of Corona cases in Bapu Dham, a slur on Gandhi Ji’s name, continue to rise by every passing day. 

Nehru’s dream-city, Chandigarh, the then capital of joint Punjab started coming up in1952. Le Corbusier, a Sweden born French architect, was hired to plan the city. He designed and planned the city meticulously, keeping large open green-spaces to let the city breathe freely. He also laid out certain strict dos and don’ts for keeping the spirit of the city alive in future. 

However, in the year 1964, the Punjab State was divided to carve out of it two new States, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Since the politically controversial decision of this divide could not satisfy either Punjab or Haryana fully, the city of Chandigarh was declared as a Union territory. And both Punjab and Haryana States were asked to share this city as their joint Capital till the time both raise their own separate State capitals. Unfortunately this thought to be a temporary arrangement continues till date.

Thus this confused status of the city, having three governments working here simultaneously, started damaging, thanks to the ever rising political interference of Punjab and Haryana, the free flying open spirit of the city. The city that was designed to accommodate a population of only 5 lakh people, currently has more than 10.6 lakh residents.

While many open spaces in the city succumbed to political pressures the Corbusierian edicts were used rarely and selectively. For instance the now world famous Rock Garden that Nek Chand, a rare artistic genius, who had carved this wonderland single handedly in a large vacant and then deserted area measuring some 40 acres, was regularised with great many difficulties. 

Before according it recognition, because of the resolute and long drawn pressure that was put by the national and international media with an unstinted support of local art lovers, the local Administration, citing Corbusier’s master plan, tried to bulldoze this master piece of art, in the name of following Corbusier’s master plan, many a time.

On the contrary, apart from regularising many structures that were extremely out of sync with the edict of Corbusier and belonged to various religious bodies, and influential owners of quite a number of private schools, many illegal and highly congested colonies reportedly got recognition without much resistance by the same very administration. Bapu Dham colony, which has been let grow like Dharavi in Mumbai, is one such place.

Interestingly this out of sync with the main-city colony is situated quite close to the city's VIP area. Now a hub of Covid-19 positive cases, is surely a big worry for the administration.

However, it should also worry the political parties, which have been nurturing these colonies as their solid and easily manipulatable vote banks!

Would the political parties learn a lesson from the Covid-19 endemic and start thinking beyond the vote bank polity?

(Published on 1th June 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 23)