The city's politicians have stooped so low that they have not even once given a thought to keep the Golden Temple out of the ambit of the "politics over garbage" that has turned 'Guru Ram Dass di Nagri' into a 'city of garbage heaps'.
The age-old adage, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," seems to hold no weight for leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP, as they fight each other on the issue of dumping of garbage.
While one area is sacred to the SAD, as an Akali MLA has been elected from here, another is sacred to the BJP, as there is an influential leader of the Saffron Party, who does not want the entire garbage of the city to be offloaded in his area.
Unfortunately in this tug-of-war, both the Akalis and the BJP leaders seem to have forgotten the Golden Temple, one of the most visited shrines of the world. The need to keep the bazaars, streets and the approach roads to the shrine clean does not seem to be the priority of the municipal corporation (MC).
"What impression does a visitor carry from here when he sees heaps of garbage lying along the roads leading to the Golden Temple? I don't know the number of times I have heard from visitors telling me that my city is dirty," stated Rajinder Kumar Goel, president of the Amritsar Tea Traders Association, who runs his business from the busy Katra Ahluwalia area, just in the vicinity of the Clock Tower entrance of the shrine.
Congress councillor Raj Kawalpreet Pal Singh Lucky feels that the Golden Temple area should have been kept out of the SAD-BJP battleground over the garbage issue.
Lucky pointed out that had it not been for the 'kar sewa' of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the approach roads to the Golden Temple could have been littered with garbage and filth.
The SGPC, which continues to remain displeased with the MC, had in October taken upon itself the task of cleaning the streets and bazaars around the shrine. This happened after devotees and tourists complained to SGPC officials of the stench emanating from choked drains along the roads to the shrine.
With MC employees rarely being seen, 'kar sewa' teams of Baba Kashmir Singh Bhuriwale join hands with SGPC employees each day to lift garbage and filth from Katra Ahluwalia, Mai Sewan Bazaar, Atta Mandi, the Brahm Buta market and along the main road from Dharam Singh market to the Jallianwala Bagh and then to the Clock Tower entrance of the Golden Temple.
"Babajis teams and our teams undertake the cleanliness drive twice during the day. Shopkeepers of the area too are helping us as many of them put the waste in bags and hand these to our teams.
Babaji has two small pick-up trucks to transport the garbage", stated SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh.
However despite the efforts of the SGPC and Babaji, the approach roads to the shrine can by no means be termed as neat and clean. Piles of garbage from hotels and from homes can be seen in the Brahm Buta market and in the Atta Mandi area. Instead of being lifted in the morning hours, the MCA takes its time which results in a stench hanging in the air in these areas for most part of the day.