Shrines clean, not surroundings

August 21, 2015 12:00 am | Updated November 16, 2021 04:28 pm IST - New Delhi

NEW DELHI, 13/08/2015: Garbage seen near Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi on August 13, 2015. 
Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

NEW DELHI, 13/08/2015: Garbage seen near Jama Masjid area in Old Delhi on August 13, 2015. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma

Irrespective of faith, a visit to a place of worship is meant to be peaceful and ‘purifying’. But that did not appear to be the case when The Hindu went to a temple, a church, a gurdwara and a mosque. While almost all the places were clean from the inside, the garbage dumped around them didn’t really stand up to the idea of Swachh Bharat.

A Sunday visit to central Delhi’s Sacred Heart Cathedral showed how spic-and-span it was from the inside, despite hosting hundreds during the Sunday mass. However, overflowing dustbins in the surrounding bylanes made for a stark contrast.

“You have to cover your nose to go inside, as the stench emanating from the bylanes isn’t a pleasant experience,” said Josephine, a regular church-goer.

Barely a kilometre away from the church lies Bangla Sahib, a prominent religious site for the Sikhs.

The community, which believes in s eva , cleans and maintains the gurdwara and the roads around it. Inside, the gurdwara is absolutely clean, with people ensuring they pick up even the smallest bit of paper and put it in the dustbin.

However, Delhi’s other famous gurdwara in Chandni Chowk — Sis Ganj Sahib — didn’t offer a similar picture. While the gurdwara is clean inside, the roads outside are littered.

“Roads are hardly swept in Chandni Chowk. People litter on the road,” said a trader on the condition of anonymity.

After Sis Ganj Sahib, Jama Masjid was the next place The Hindu went to. Despite receiving grants worth crores of rupees, polythene bags, paper and other waste was strewn on the mosque stairs.

After the afternoon prayers finished, a few men among those who streamed out of the mosque even spat on the stairs.

“We want to keep the mosque clean, but people who come here have no manners. They throw garbage in the mosque,” said Mohammed Abrar, who has been stationed at the gate of the mosque to take care of people’s footwear.

A small mound of garbage in one of the gardens here explains the attitude of those who come to pray here. “They throw packets of chips and leftover food they sometimes get inside the mosque. It is worse during Ramzan, when people come here with food,” he added.

Meanwhile, the condition of the Kalkaji Mandir, which is dedicated to Goddess Kali and is visited by hundreds of people each day, is testimony to the neglect it faces.

The free DDA parking here is encroached upon by homeless people. Further, with no public toilets around, the parking area serves the purpose.

The stairs leading to the main temple has goats tied to the railings. People organising the bhandaras here do not have access to dustbins or any other waste disposal facility, as a result of which they dump used plates and leftovers in corners.

The temple is cleaned from the inside only once in the morning, which is not enough to last the whole day.

“I have been visiting the temple for 10 years and it is getting worse. The temple authorities don’t keep it clean,” said Namita Verma, a homemaker.

However, Neeraj Bhardwaj, president of the Shri Kalkaji Mandir Prabandhak Sudhar Committee, blamed the homeless and beggars.

“We placed several dustbins in the temple, but they steal it. Even we face problems because of them. The goats are tied here as they are offered to Kali Maa,” Mr. Bhardwaj said.

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