Chandigarhs old and new pitch two states in battle

Nat

Punjab's plans to call an upcoming town "New Chandigarh" has offended the other state that shares the existing Chandigarh as a common capital. Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has in fact demanded that Punjab should let Haryana have Chandigarh.

New Chandigarh is being planned in Mullanpur on Chandigarh's outskirts. A region comprising 32 villages and spanning 15,000 acres, Mullanpur is one of the Greater Mohali region's six local planning areas that surround Chandigarh. On May 28, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal cleared the new name in the Greater Mohali Regional Plan.

Hooda has termed the move unethical. "How would it sound if we rename Gurgaon 'Newborn Delhi'?" he has said, besides: "If Punjab now has a new Chandigarh, it should leave Chandigarh to us."

The chief minister's office Punjab has refused to acknowledge Hooda's objections. But others in Punjab have picked up the debate. Punjab's town and country planning department, for instance, feels Haryana's objection reflects a "jealous neighbour".

"Haryana has benefited immensely from its proximity to New Delhi and Chandigarh. Faridabad, Gurgaon and Panchkula account for most of the development in Haryana," says Manvesh Singh Sidhu, chief administrator with Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority and the state's director for town and country planning. "The rest of it is still trying to wriggle out of ancient times. Why raise a hue and cry about Punjab's developing areas around Chandigarh?"

Punjab's move has had a surprise supporter in People's Party of Punjab president Manpreet Singh Badal. He says there is a great need for a city like "New Chandigarh" in Punjab, as the state does not have a beautiful and well-developed city to match Chandigarh. "The state government's initiative to develop cities on the pattern of Chandigarh is laudable. The PPP has no objection to it," Manpreet has said.

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