termed The City Beautiful by its French founder-architect Le
Corbusier, has always been the subject of controversy between
Punjab and Haryana with both laying claims over it. Now, a third
and new dimension has been added with a demand from some quarters
that the city be made the 29th state of India.
Officially a union territory (UT) administered by the central
government, Chandigarh has the unique distinction of being the
joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, even though both the states
have no control over its administration.
The UT is under the control of the ministry of home affairs.
The Chandigarh unit of the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) has initiated
a month-long signature campaign among city residents, demanding
that the city be declared the 29th state of India. The union
territory now covers an area of only 114 square km.
"We have initiated a signature campaign to intensify and garner
public support for a mass movement for the creation of Chandigarh
as the 29th state of India with the merger of 50 km areas of
Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh," city's JD-U president
Surinder Bhardwaj said.
Along with the demand that Chandigarh be made a state, the party
is seeking removal of the Punjab governor as the administrator of
Chandigarh, setting up of a state boundary commission to demarcate
the areas of 50 km surrounding Chandigarh, formation of a state
legislative assembly, a separate public service commission and
subordinate selection board as well as a civil services cadre.
The 50 km area around Chandigarh, which is being sought for
inclusion in the new state include areas of Mohali, Kurali, Banur,
Rajpura, Kharar, Lalru and Dera Bassi (all in Punjab), Panchkula,
Barwala, Morni, Pinjore and Kalka (all in Haryana) and Baddi (Himachal
Most of these areas in Chandigarh's periphery have developed in a
haphazard way and have been putting pressure on Chandigarh for
their needs of health, educational, commercial and other services.
While Chandigarh is governed by a bureaucratic set-up, with
officers being drawn from central government, Punjab and Haryana
cadres, civic affairs are managed by a municipal corporation.
"This is a weird idea -- to have Chandigarh as a state. Even if
the areas are included in Chandigarh from neighbouring states, it
will remain a small entity. The burden of these merged areas will
ruin the character of Chandigarh," city-based businessman Manmohan
But there are others who differ.
"If Singapore can be run as a country and a successful city-state,
why can't Chandigarh? If the adjoining areas are merged in
Chandigarh and it has its own political government, the city could
evolve better. In the present bureaucratic setup, officers are not
that accountable as there are no political bosses above them,"
entrepreneur Brajesh Singh said.
Chandigarh was conceived and built in the 1950s as a symbol of a
modern, resurgent, post-independent India. It was the first
planned city in the country.
It was made a UT and declared the joint capital of Punjab and
Haryana after Punjab was divided and Haryana was created Nov 1,
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)