Swachh Bharat: An year on, Unholy mess in holy city

  • Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Oct 03, 2015 16:26 IST
Amritsar’s lack of social hygiene is evident from its littered streets. (Sameer Sehgal / HT)

When the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan was announced, politicians and officials wasted no time in wielding brooms. But the cleanliness drive has failed to take off in the holy city even after a year.

An attraction for tourists from around the globe and recently selected for the ‘Smart City’ scheme, Amritsar was listed among the dirtiest cities of the nation in rankings of 476 cities released by the Centre. The city is in an absolute mess, grappling with garbage and grime daily.

Leave aside public places like the bus stand and railway station, heaps of garbage can be seen on every major street and in most colonies. Busy spots such as Ram Bagh, the area near Hall Gate, Sultanwind Road and Inner Ring Road portray a dirty picture, raising a question mark on the efficacy of multiple cleanliness drives carried out by the municipal corporation (MC).


The roads leading to Golden Temple were no better till some time ago, forcing the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to openly slam the MC. It announced it would take care of the area and ‘kar sewaks’ now clean these stretches. All this has been happening at a time when the state authorities and political bigwigs do not tire of declaring the city their priority. Despite assurances, there has been no progress on the solid waste management plant at Bhagtanwala.

Led by local Akali MLA Inderbir Bolaria, residents have launched an agitation against the plant. As the deadlock continues, the MC has failed to find a site for the dumping ground.

City residents have to put up with the stink. However, municipal commissioner Pardeep Sabharwal said though the corporation made efforts, the campaign did not leave an impact due to the deep-rooted garbage problem of the city.

The MC has written to all 65 councillors to keep their respective wards clean. While it has been tough year, MC officials claim to have undertaken campaigns to create awareness.

Will involve residents: Mayor

What steps have been taken to improve sanitation in the past one year?

We ran a campaign to create public awareness, motivated our staff and collaborated with schools. Publicity was done through hoardings.

What challenges did you face in implementing the campaign?

Agitation by Bhagtanwala residents on garbage dumping left us with no choice. MC employees also went on strike over their salaries. The campaign did not make the desirable impact, but our efforts are on.

How will you strengthen sanitation further in the future?

Cleanliness is a regular process. Residents will be involved. We will get more trolleys and manpower for better results.

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