Big rows of garbage piled on both sides of the Grand Trunk Road are the reception posts of this fair city that got an ugly makeover.
This district headquarters since 1852 once had thick jungles, orchards, gardens, and banyan and peepal (sacred fig) trees in each locality; paths lined with shady trees, including sheesham, kikkar, and mango; huge ponds that harvested rainwater; and natural and planned drains to carry away its sewage.
Attracted to it were emperors such as Maharaja Ranjit Singh and rulers such as the British colonists. The jungles, orchards and gardens of their historical summer retreat were all sacrificed to clear the land for the new population migrating from villages, and now it's in the ranks of Punjab's ugliest urban centres.
In the name of widening the roads, the municipal committee (now council) removed all the trees along these paths. It has installed 15 tube-wells in Gurdaspur, yet the water supply is irregular in some wards. The open and underground drains it set out to build are incomplete.
The city doesn't have enough sweepers to tidy its streets, hence the heaps of garbage at almost every turn. Even at the points where the MC has placed garbage bins, the filth is always spilling on the ground around. Cover your nose, if you are a passer-by.
Choked with plastic bags tossed out with kitchen waste, most of Gurdaspur's drains have become breeding grounds of the mosquitoes that cause malaria and other fevers. Several metres outside shops, iron rods, wood, sand, and shuttering material are dumped, in the way of traffic.
Unauthorised kiosks have taken over the markets at Sadar Bazar, Library Road, Geeta Bhavan Road, Tibri Road, Trimu Road, Kahnuwan Road, Kalanaur Road and GT Road. MC administrator Manmohan Singh Kang says the civic authority is helpless.
"Twice a day, our employees carry waste from all collection points to the main landfill at Mann village. "What can we do if people still lack civic sense and throw garbage in the open," said Kang, though he agreed to issue orders to free the public land of encroachment and ensure regular cleanliness.