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City in Focus: Kalanwali

City in Focus: Kalanwali, naya haryana, नया हरियाणा

5th September 2014

Naya Haryana

Kalanwali is a city and Municipal Committee in Sirsa district of Haryana and is located close to the Punjab border. There are 38 villages that fall within Kalanwali's jurisdiction. The town has a population of around one lakh and due to its proximity to Punjab, there are more Sikh people in the town. There is a lot of trade and transit between residents of Kalanwali and those in Punjab, with people having relatives on both sides of the state border. Punjabi is mostly spoken here along with Hindi and Bagri (Haryanavi).

Historically, Kalanwali has been an agrarian town and the people subsist mainly on agriculture and trading. The main mandi in the town has farmers coming from Punjab to sell their produce here, amongst farmers from nearby areas. The traditional crop had been Chana Dal, and Kalanwali was once famous for it. At the time, there were several dal processing mills in the area but these mostly got shut down since the area shifted their cultivation to cotton.

The cotton grown here was sent to places all over India and there are quite a few cotton processing units in and around Kalanwali. With time the cultivation pattern again shifted and now the mainstay is rice. As a result one sees a few rice mills that have sprung up in recent years.

Kalanwali is also known for its small scale industry that manufactures steel cupboards and trunk boxes. These have built their own reputation and are supplied to various parts of the country.

Kalanwali has a recently-upgraded railway station and is connected to nearby Sirsa and Bhatinda in Punjab. Sirsa was to be connected to Dabwali via Kalanwali by a new rail line and the project was sanctioned in 2009-10. However, the project has progressed at a slow speed due to lack of political focus in the area.

Cultural and social identity

Kalanwali is known for its melas that take place in and around the town. Baba Ram Dev mela in Kuranganwali is well attended and quite popular. The anniversary of Sant Mohan Singh Matwala is celebrated annually at Tilokewala and is quite a popular event amongst the locals.

Problems being faced

Kalanwali as a town and Municipal Committee has been largely ignored by the political masters of the state. The region has received very little attention by way of investment or physical development. Not much has changed in the last ten years.

The people still do not have access to quality education at the school level. There are two government aided schools and one vocational college that are operating but the standard of education leaves a lot to be desired. The school infrastructure suffers from poor maintenance and the children largely study without electricity on most days of the year.

Kalanwali has no engineering or medical college. There are no ITI in the area either. There are no special colleges for women to pursue higher education. Students have to travel to Sirsa or Bhatinda to pursue higher studies. This has been a long standing demand of the local people that the state government invest and develop Kalanwali as a centre for higher education but the state government has had little time for this town located at one end of Haryana.

The town itself suffers from very bad roads which have very little street lighting that function. Electricity supply is a major problem especially in the summer months when temperatures can touch unbearable levels. The few mills located here too suffer from a lack of regular electricity supply and have to depend on their own diesel operated generator sets to meet the power requirements, thereby incurring higher operating costs.

With little investment in the region, unemployment is a major issue here, with the youth having no jobs or activities such as sports or other co-curricular events to keep them busy.

The state government has done very little by way of building low cost and affordable housing for the people. The town itself suffers from the lack of a functioning drainage system. During monsoons, the roads turn into mini rivers of slush making life very difficult for the local residents.

Despite the area being well connected with various canals, there is a severe shortage of clean drinking water. The people have made several representations for the state to make arrangements for clean drinking water but the Hooda administration has done very little for the residents of Kalanwali. It's almost as though they don't exist.

Kalanwali does not have proper medical facilities to handle emergencies and the local people are forced to travel to Sirsa or Bhatinda for treatment. In addition, the people also suffer due to the air pollution from the nearby Guru Gobind Singh Refinery located at Rama Mandi, in Punjab.

There is an urgent need to upgrade the medical facilities here. A medical college in the area would help address the need for critical medical care, as also offer options for the local youth to pursue medical education.

For a long time now, the people have been demanding an over bridge in Kalanwali but the state government is yet to respond to this longstanding demand.

Unfortunately, the area is suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Several youth have unfortunately taken to this social evil. The problem is already widespread across Punjab and due to its proximity to the state, the locals of Kalanwali have also fallen prey to this menace. Here again, the state has turned a blind eye to the problem and there has been no intervention from the state administration on this account and the problem continues to manifest.

Kalanwali being an agrarian economy has a thriving cattle rearing economy. However, there is no cattle mandi in the area that can further develop the activity and add additional income to the local farmers. Despite having a large cattle base and milk production, there is no milk processing facility in the area.

So how long would the people of Kalanwali have to wait to get their share of investment and development that they so rightly deserve? Why should the state government divert its time and resources only to a few cities? It's nice to see a developing Gurgaon or Faridabad but isn't Kalanwali also a part of Haryana? What will it take to grab the state's attention to this region? It's time for the Chief Minister to face the people.

It's been almost 10 years of Hooda government but no impact of the administration has been seen here. It is time for the people of Kalanwali to understand their rights and raise their voice for a better tomorrow. They owe it to the next generation.

Kalanwali does not need to be left ignored anymore, and it is time they unite to build a Naya Haryana that will give them their share of a better life. It's time for a Nayi Soch.

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