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HindustanTimes Mon,14 Jul 2014

Poor sanitation, spurt in crime keeps visitors to holy city at bay

Rameshinder Singh Sandhu , Hindustan Times  Amritsar, October 23, 2013
First Published: 00:49 IST(23/10/2013) | Last Updated: 00:50 IST(23/10/2013)

A Punjabi adage aptly describes the Diwali celebrations of Amritsar: “Dal Roti Ghar Di, Diwali Amritsar Di” (home-cooked food and Amritsar’s Diwali have no parallels).

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Pilgrims from far and wide long to experience Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple. It was a usual practice for tourists from India and abroad to visit Amritsar during the festive season.
However, the figures of tourists thronging the city during this time of the year have decreased substantially.

This could be attributed to poor sanitation, menace of beggars, spurt in snatching incidents and rise in the crime graph.

This calls for collective action by the authorities and residents who need to work in tandem to promote Amritsar as a tourist spot.

Jatinder Brar, owner of Punjab Naatshala, told HT: “It is all about civic sense. Though city residents are educated, they don’t bother to keep the surroundings clean.”

Sources said the night sanitation drive initiated by the municipal corporation a few months ago to clean the streets around the Golden Temple was a damp squib due to the shortage of workers.

Municipal commissioner DPS Kharbanda, said, “Our employees work hard to clean every nook and corner of the city but their efforts prove futile as residents are not responsible enough. The authorities and residents need to work together to bring the desired results.”

The menace of beggars has also assumed alarming proportions in the city. A large number of beggars can be seen lined up outside the Golden Temple. Visitors, particularly foreigners, have complained of being chased by beggars until they don’t receive alms.

Chain snatching incidents have also increased and a majority of the victims are foreign tourists.
However, the new police commissioner, JS Aulakh, has assured adequate security arrangements to deal with the problem.

 “My team has pulled up its socks to ensure the safety of residents. Many people lauded our security arrangements on the birthday of Sri Guru Ram Das Ji on October 9. We will ensure that such incidents are nipped in the bud,” he said.

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