Fastest growing Solan municipal committee faces discrimination

Ambika Sharma

Registering the highest population growth rate of 57.26 per cent in the state has not helped Solan municipal committee (MC) in bagging significant Centrally-aided projects to speed up its development.

With several educational institutes having opened up in its precincts, a rapid growth of population has been witnessed in the last one-and-a-half decade.

The large-scale unchecked unauthorised constructions in the town have converted it into a jungle of concrete, where the civic amenities have failed to keep pace with the growing population.

Not only was this largest civic body of the state denied an upgrade to a municipal corporation, but it has not been included for Centrally-sponsored projects such as Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) scheme. This would have made available adequate funds for upgrading civic amenities such as water, roads, solid waste management, etc. With a population of 39,256 as per the 2011 Census, the town was short of 50,000 mark, which was a key criteria for being upgraded to a municipal corporation. Though attempts were made to include nearby areas such as Ribon, Chambaghat, Saproon, Basal, etc, which have a population of 11,208, to achieve this desired population, in the absence of consensus from the inhabitants, this could not be achieved.

Since there was no ranking of MCs in the state, Solan has failed to be included for the Central schemes despite qualifying on a majority of the 18 criteria laid down by the Centre.

Pawan Gupta, former chairman, MC, said: “It is lamentable that Solan has been denied benefits of AMRUT scheme as well as an upgrade to a municipal corporation despite having the highest population growth and being the largest MC of the state.” He said if the town’s current population was considered, it was well beyond the 50,000 mark as the town witnessed the highest growth rate in the state and has a large chunk of floating population as well.

A proposal was moved by the state government in 2017 to include four new cluster cities of Una, Solan, Hamirpur and Chamba in AMRUT scheme, but Solan has failed to find inclusion under this scheme so far.

It was interesting to note that though a proposal to convert the MC into a municipal corporation was awaiting a Cabinet nod in the tenure of the last Congress government, the move had been struck down at the last moment.

“The MC area had as many as 892 houseless people, for which dwelling was yet to be provided despite Central schemes providing adequate funds.  Key formalities such as transfer of land in the name of the Urban Development Department along with their geo-tagging and a detailed project report were yet to be undertaken,” said acting Executive Officer of the MC Narayan Chauhan.

Despite directions of the National Green Tribunal, the MC area was yet to follow the Solid Waste Management rules 2016 and identify land for construction of a solid-waste management plant. This was a major failure of the civic body, which did not even have a regular executive officer.

With inadequate parking and non-expansion of the roads, which were unable to bear the growing volume of vehicles, the town faced frequent traffic jams throughout the day on major roads such as Mall, Rajgarh, etc., There was a dire need to expand the road infrastructure and the 5.14 km Solan Bypass, which was being conceived in 2015, was yet to be completed.

Out of 26,308 households in sub-district Solan, only 8.72 per cent have piped sewer systems, 61.94 per cent households had drainage connectivity for waste water disposal, as per the 2011 Census. This poorly reflects poor waste management and little had been done to improve the figure in the recent years.

Though a Rs 64 crore Giri Potable Lift Water Scheme was commissioned in 2008, it was lifting only 14.60 million litres per day (MLD) of water as against the installed capacity of 22 MLD.

The officials of the Irrigation and Public Health Department have now worked out a project worth Rs 12.73 crore for upgrading this scheme, which would ensure lifting of the remaining 7.4 MLD to augment water supply. In the absence of adequate funds even key issues such as adequate water availability were being undertaken in bits and pieces.