Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal spoke of making Amritsar one of the most beautiful cities every time he visited the holy city this year, but as 2014 nears its end, the city is struggling to get a clean look as garbage heaps dot it all over and politics is being played over the issue.
The SAD-BJP government has not only failed to set up the proposed solid waste management plant in the city, but it could not even tackle the garbage issue.
Garbage heaps seen all over the city and litter scattered on various roads clearly indicate that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's much-hyped 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan' has hardly taken off here.
When the Prime Minister had launched the cleanliness drive, many prominent politicians had taken the broom in their hands. But now, the poor civic conditions prevailing in the city prove that 'broom in hand' was just a photo opportunity for most of the leaders.
Amritsar, which sees a footfall of over 1 lakh tourists every day, has been the worst example of a tourist destination as far as cleanliness is concerned.
Though Punjab local bodies minister Anil Joshi belongs to the city and is a local MLA, he too has failed to do much to improve things.
A deadlock has emerged in the wake of the different stands taken by the SAD and the BJP leaders over this issue.
After the residents of Bhagtanwala staged a protest in the area to demand better civic conditions, SAD leader and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Inderbir Singh Bolaria, who represents the area in state assembly, came to their support and announced that nobody will be allowed to throw garbage at Bhagtanwala dump.
Since garbage was being dumped in Bhagtanwala for several years and the government has failed to set up a solid waste management plant in the area, it had become impossible for the residents there to lead a healthy life.
Succumbing to public pressure and in view of Bolaria's tough stand, the administration chose Fatahpur as the new dumping site. As the MC started dumping garbage there, it was the turn of BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh to stage a protest and stop the garbage being dumped in the area, which falls in Amritsar Central constituency from where he unsuccessfully contested assembly polls in 2012.
Under the BJP pressure, the MC then stopped dumping of garbage at Fatahpur. This yet again landed the city in a mess, leading to scattering of garbage all over. For the past few days, lifting of garbage has been stalled, creating a big nuisance for the local residents.
With the government failing to find a solution, it is the people of Amritsar who suffer the most while going through the miseries of poor civic conditions in the city.
Taking an initiative, Amritsar deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat had arranged a meeting between the SAD and the BJP leaders to resolve the issue, but that too failed to break the impasse.
Even as Sukhbir Badal and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal are seized of the matter, they have not come up with any solution so far.
When contacted, Bolaria said, "I am not doing any politics on the issue. I have objected to dumping garbage at Bhagtanwala just in the interest of the health of the local residents. The situation over there is pathetic. I feel bad for the people of Amritsar as garbage is seen all over the roads. The time has come that senior leaders must intervene and form a committee to resolve the issue.
What they say
We have lifted about 20 trolleys of garbage today. But I just want to make it clear that the situation will not change till the administration allocates us land to throw garbage. The deadlock is still on and it will continue till some land is given to us.
Bakshi Ram Arora, mayor
I would just say that the municipal corporation must decide and inform the administration that where it wants to throw garbage. I will provide all help and even protection, if needed.
Ravi Bhagat, deputy commissioner
Bhagtanwala has been approved for the dump and my colleagues should not do any sort of politics on this issue in the interest of the holy city. The matter has been taken up with the CM and the deputy CM and a solution will be found soon.
Anil Joshi, local bodies minister