Come Sunday, garbage heaps at many places on Madurai Collectorate premises are set on fire. Plastic bottles, bags and PET bottles, among many unsegregated waste, go up in flames.
It is no surprise that not many dustbins are found anywhere on the premises. One of the smouldering heaps was seen right beside a defunct toilet complex.
Further, abandoned vehicles are found at many places at the Collectorate, adding to the eyesore. A few trucks, SUVs, and lorries near the District Drug Warehouse remain almost submerged in wild growth of weeds and bushes laced with strewn away waste.
In contrast to the boards declaring the premises as a tobacco-free zone, cigarette butts are found near the canteens.
Adding to the uncleanliness of the place, empty alcohol bottles and irresponsibly discarded old batteries, plastic covers and wrappers can be seen, which makes one question the safety and surveillance right at the heart of the campus.
Over 10 stray dogs, including many with visible skin diseases, loiter around the premises. “Though they do not cause any trouble, many dogs look like they are suffering from psoriasis which do not make the public and visitors feel safe,” said V. Pechiammal, 65, a petitioner from Kottampatti.
Citing the posters of political parties and associations pasted on boundary walls and buildings, N. Ramesh, a petitioner from Kallandhri said that it is one of the many sights that tarnishes the image of the Collectorate. The walls do not bear any ‘Stick No Bills’ signs either. “In addition, there are no proper signage for petitioners to find the right office. Installing one would help everyone, especially the elderly visitors,” he added.
The need for easy access to drinking water dispensers on the campus is a felt need and complaint put forth by Ms Pechiammal and a few other petitioners. The roads laid on the premises are substandard and uneven, too.
M. Rabia, a worker at one of the canteens, said that many women keep asking her for the location of toilets. As for men, the toilet facility, comprising five toilets, near the canteen remained shut for months, not serving any purpose, she said and added that many men urinate in the open. “It makes it unhygienic for everyone since so many people visit this place every day,” she said.
“Despite the conservancy staff cleaning the toilet near the meeting hall in the additional building at the Collectorate where most of the offices are located, there is an overpowering stench coming from there,” said an official.
She added that installing sanitary napkin vending machines would be beneficial to employees and visitors from across the district.
When asked, Collector S. Aneesh Sekhar said a mass cleaning campaign was held three months ago and a similar clean-up drive will be carried out next week to keep the premises clean while the overall maintenance will be focused and improved in the coming days. “As for burning of waste which is intolerable, the issue will be taken up seriously and looked into,” he added.