The Telegraph
Friday , April 11 , 2014
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Voters demand MP involvement

What residents crave for: Better transport services and a state-of-the-art airport like the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi (in pictures above)

The electorate of Patna Sahib — the most urbane constituency in the state — are demanding. They want their MP to take active interest in augmenting the facilities in the city besides focusing on national issues.

By virtue of the panchayati raj system, MPs cannot be directly blamed for civic issues like bad roads and drainage. But they can act as an active link between the Centre and the state for ensuring basic facilities to residents is the common sentiment of the voters of this constituency. The Telegraph charts out five basic demands of Patna Sahib voters:

City development

Majority of the city area of Patna comes under the Patna Sahib constituency. Despite the state government talking about developing Patna as a metropolitan city, several people still refer to it as a “glorified village”.

Resident’s demand from new MP: “There has been absolutely no planning involved in the development of the city. The condition of arterial roads is still good but the bylanes on the outskirts are in extremely bad condition. I would want my MP to pay due attention to the urban development in the city, which seems to have remained mostly ignored till now,” said Subodh Chandra, a teacher.

Candidate speaks: Aam Aadmi Party candidate Parveen Amanullah said: “I believe in doing work at the grassroots. I would ensure door-to-door collection of garbage as well as cleaning of streets. The internal roads are in quite bad condition at many places in the city. I would work for overall development of the city.”

Better airport

Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport in the Patna Sahib constituency has been craving for space for over a decade. Airports Authority of India (AAI), which falls under the domain of the ministry of civil aviation, had even threatened in 2012 that it would stop the operation of big commercial aircraft like Airbus 320 and Boeing 777 if the obstacles along the already short approach funnel were not removed. The state government managed to save the airport by pruning several trees near the airport but the Patna aerodrome continues to remain one of the most risky airports in the country.

Resident’s demand from the new MP: “The AAI clearly mandates that the development of an airport would be done only when the state government provides land for it. Here, the state government denied giving six acres for the expansion of airport. The sitting BJP MP, Shatrughan Sinha, could have exerted pressure on the state government when the JD(U) was in the NDA to resolve the issue. I would want the new MP to get actively involved in such issues so that the city airport becomes truly international,” said Satyajit Singh, the chairman of the Progress Harmony Development Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Bihar.

Candidate speaks: Kunal Singh, the Congress nominee, said: “I am not aware much on the issue of the airport but as an MP, I would take all possible steps to improve the situation for the benefit of the citizens of this constituency and the entire state.”

Water management

Both water supply and drainage network of the city are more than 50 years old and currently defunct. Clogged drains create waterlogging situation in most parts of the city every monsoon and leakage from damaged water supply line is also common.

Resident’s demand from the new MP: “I fail to understand that how come none of the MPs from Patna Sahib constituency could see drain water flowing on the streets and defunct water supply line. I would want my MP to look after the drainage issue first. Then, the parliamentarian should focus on the improvement of the water supply network through proper co-ordination with the Centre,” said Ashok Ghosh, professor-in-charge, department of environment and water management, AN College.

Candidate speaks: Kunal Singh of the Congress said, “I have announced that I will take care of day-to-day affairs of the city. I shall co-ordinate with the Centre as well as the state government to improve the situation.”

Public transport

Public transport in Patna has by far remained “unorganised”. Apart from rickety minibuses crisscrossing the streets, there is no organised city bus service in the city. The autorickshaws also ply without any fixed fares or meters. Funds for plying city buses have been lying with state government for five years but not a single bus has hit the streets. In the midst of the crumbling public transport in the city, the state government has been talking about metro rail.

Resident’s demand from the new MP: “Patna is perhaps the only capital city in the country where there is no organised public transport system. I would like my MP from Patna Sahib to co-ordinate with the central government to get some buses under centrally sponsored schemes like Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission,” Subodh Kumar Mishra, a businessman.

Candidate speaks: Dr Gopal Prasad Sinha, the JD(U) candidate, said: “The state government has made a plan for running metro rail in the Patna town area and it was sent to the central government for approval. If I become an MP, I would follow up the issue in Parliament with utmost sincerity.”

Road on tracks

Lalu Prasad had started the local train service on the tracks between R-Block and Digha when he was the railway minister. This railway line has hardly served any purpose other than triggering huge traffic jams. The railway spends nearly Rs 13,000 a day on fuel for running this train and earns revenue of meagre Rs 250. The state government has been pursuing with Indian Railways for past several years for getting the stretch so that it could convert the tracks into a four-lane road.

Resident’s demand from the new MP: “I do not understand why the railway is running this local train? Only a handful of people avail its services. I want my MP to pursue this matter vigorously with the Centre on this issue and arrive to a solution,” said Subodh Kumar Mishra, a businessman.

Candidate speaks: Dr Gopal Prasad Sinha of the JD(U) said: “Chief minister Nitish Kumar had personally requested then railway minister Mamata Banerjee to hand over the stretch of land to the state government but the railway kept the issue hanging. If I become an MP, getting the stretch from the railway would be one of my top priorities.”

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