Reaching Golden Temple is not easy nowadays as construction work is underway on almost all roads and streets leading to the shrine, causing inconvenience to the devotees.
Punjab government has taken up the task to make the surroundings of the shrine a traffic-free zone. And, it has already become one as piles of stones, bricks, concrete and other material along roadside has made it near impossible for a vehicle to cross by. One can’t even reach a parking lot in the area.
However, the devotees forget their hardships once inside the shrine, where they are taken good care.
There is problem because all the works, including the beatification project from Hall gate to Golden Temple, have been started at the same time, pointing to lack of planning.
Under the beatification project, roads, footpaths, chowks and gates are being constructed or spruced up. All the heritage buildings on the stretch are being given a facelift using ‘Lakhori’ bricks that were used for construction during 16th and 17th centuries. The construction material is scattered, thereby causing hindrance in the movement of pedestrians as well as commuters.
Worst hit are the devotees who walk barefoot up to the Golden Temple and other shrines in the area as they end up with bleeding foot. In front of Dharam Singh market, devotees have to walk on gravel and pointed marble pieces.
“We came from Sri Ganganagar (Rajasthan) to pay obeisance at Darbar Sahib. We are surprised that the administration has spared no path to reach the shrine comfortably. The poor planning of the construction causes hassles to the pilgrims,” said Sarbjit Kaur, who came here on Sunday with her family.
Pyare Lal, a street vendor, said, “By completing these projects before the assembly elections, the ruling SAD-BJP wants to score the brownie points over rivals. This is reason that all the projects were started at the same time. The ruling alliance should not adopt this kind of approach.”
Though cops have been deployed to ensure smooth passage for pilgrims, there is no relief. They have installed some barricades to stop vehicles, but VIPs manage to drive up to the shrine. Commoners have to walk on the dug-up roads strewn with debris.
Negligence of the civic authorities has also contributed to the chaos as vendors and shopkeepers have encroached upon the roads.
At the shrine, sewadars are taking good care of the devotees. They are being offered cold water and sewadars can even be seen fanning them when pilgrims are in the queue, waiting for the darshan.