The condition of most roads and sanitation has gone from bad to worse at Katra, the base camp of the most revered shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi and one of the busiest towns of the state, causing great inconvenience to pilgrims visiting. All thanks to apathy of the local municipality.
Potholes, which already existed on a number of roads, have emerged on several other roads after the recent rains. Though the civic body authorities had claimed a few months ago that they would reconstruct or repair roads, the needful was yet to be done. “The road condition at the main bus stand and entry point to the town gives an impression to pilgrims that they are entering a highly backward district,” said Sanjeev Singh, a social worker of NGO Indian Democratic Human Rights Organisation.
He added that potholes and pits on roads, particularly near police station and bus stand, have got widened after the recent rains and it has become difficult to drive on such dilapidated roads, especially during rain. “At least potholes and pits should be filled up immediately by municipality before it takes up repair or reconstruction of dilapidated roads,” he added. The Katra municipality is the richest local body in the state, but those at the helm are adopting a casual approach to solve this serious problem,” Singh said.
Besides bad roads, untreated garbage is another alarming problem for locals and pilgrims, said Nisha Devi, a local. She added that although the majority of cities in the state have already banned use of polythene, the authorities have failed to implement the ban in Katra.
She added that as the use of polythene has been going unabated with no site earmarked for disposal of waste left by over 80 lakh pilgrims, ecology is degrading fast in Katra.
She said due to non-availability of dumping sites, most hoteliers and locals throw garbage on the outskirts of the town, especially on Reasi Road, leaving a bad impression on pilgrims visiting here with great faith.
The authorities have repeatedly claimed to make Katra a model town but the bad condition of roads and piles of garbage just 500 metre from the holy town expose all these claims.
The civic body officials, too, admitted that garbage disposal was a big problem in the town. They said the municipality has submitted a comprehensive plan for approval to the authorities concerned and are awaiting funds for the purpose.