The open drains with stagnant water overflowing with muck and mountains of garbage have become part of the landscape of the city along with its historic buildings so majestic to look at.

Parts of the old city stink so bad that it is impossible to breathe while there. Things are abominable in an area that is home to all the heritage sites of Lucknow. Soon after crossing the magnificent Rumi Darwaza, the next sight is mountains of garbage out of which bits and pieces take to the wind to carpet the area with filth and making the atmosphere reek of food smells mixed with urine and human waste.

For years, the park around the Clock Tower has resembled more like a dumping ground for the all of humanity than a heritage site. The parks around the Satkhanda, Clock Tower and Picture Gallery are a shame.

A visitor to the grand Jama Masjid, is first greeted with rotting rubbish that is piled up all along the end corner of the boundary wall of Unity College. The college authorities have tried to stop the endless dumping of trash around them but repeated complaints by them have fallen on the deaf ears of both the government and the residents of the area.

Even the reputed hospital and medical institution, King George’s Medical University is not spared. The vicinity of this institution is one big island of chaos that is worse than a sabzi mandi. The roads are littered with leftover food stuff that fills the air with a stench strong enough to kill human beings instead of healing them at the Medical College.

The surrounding land at the rear end of the Bada Imambara belongs to the Husainabad Trust and is used as a dumping ground for stale vegetables from the nearby market place and has become the resting place of mountains of decomposed flowers from the flower market opposite.

The sanitary state of neighbourhoods in the old city like Asharfabad, Mansoor Nagar, Talkatora, Chowk, Muftiganj and Qaiserbagh are appalling where half the roads are covered with nothing but layers of slime and filth that let off putrid odours that are extremely hazardous to health.

“Last year, a girl accidentally slipped on a banana peel in the Chowk area. She suffered multiple fractures and her elbow was crushed into many pieces!” said Dilip, a shopkeeper who witnessed the accident.

The once glorious Rifah-e-Aam club, where luminaries like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Rashid Jahan, Razia and Sajjad Zaheer used to spread the fragrance of learning and literature, now stands in a state of utter neglect, surrounded by a sea of plastic, paper, rubbish and scrap. The proud venue of the inaugural conference of the Progressive Writers’ Association in 1936 is in a dilapidated condition, with a large part of its surrounding land, usurped as a dumping ground for trash.

Most of the roadside ‘kooda ghars’ or garbage dump yards built by the government, are not covered and cattle walks inside to rummage and to spill the filth all over the place. The result is that all the waste is strewn onto the road and covering up the entire pavement. The dump yard located at the intersection of Gwyne Road and Balrampur Hospital Road is seen to be believed, so nauseous is the experience.

The newer parts of the city are not much better. The sprawling parks and plush hang- outs of trans-Gomti areas are marred by malodorous stench emanating from heaps of garbage seen piled up at the turn of almost every corner in all localities.

Even the otherwise ‘cleaner’ parts of the city like Gomti Nagar are devoid of public dustbins. The less said about the waste dotting the banks of River Gomti, the better. From being the city’s lifeline, the river is now the death of its people, with waste from public places freely and regularly flushed into the river without thought.

The mantra that “be responsible for your own trash” will make the city clean but the seminal problem is where do people trash and after trashing it in the right place then what?

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