Irony! This 'urban' village in Punjab has no water, sanitation or cremation grounds

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Punjab
Chandigarh, Nov 7: Saini Majra is a unique village in the Ropar district of Punjab. Interestingly, it is unique not because of its demography or culture, but because of the 'urban' status that it was given by the Punjab government last week, despite the fact that the village does not have a proper sanitation, drinking water and cremation groubds, which are the basic requirements of an urban area.

The incident came to light when the villagers challenged the Punjab Government's 2013 notification before the Haryana High Court. Following this, the court issued a notice to the government last week.

In the petition, the villagers notified that 121 out of 230 villagers were earning under the MGNREGS scheme, which is strictly entitled for the rural people. Another area of concern for the villagers is the fact that they will not be allowed to keep animals in residential areas within the municipal limits. This means that their only source of income will also be snatched, leave aside losing the earnings under the MGNREGS.

Ex-sarpanch Prem Kaur, representing the people, said,"We have earned the urban tag and lost our more deserving backyard status. Our right to earn our livelihood has also been taken away with this. Just because they don't want to spend any amount on development, they have dubbed us urban."

Adding to the woes is the fact that it will not receive rural and backward grants from the Centre, if it was deemed an urban area. A resident, who earned his living by selling crops said,"sn't it a shame that we have to pay every single tax whether for playground, fire or health services when none of these exists."

It would be a double irony if we said that according to the 1911 Punjab Municipal Act, "85% area of a village should be non-agricultural if it has to be declared urban area".

This village, however, has a total of 423 acre land. Out of which, 362 acre is agricultural, 29 acre is residential while rest is water bodies and kaccha roads.

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