A mess called Hazratganj

Uzair Rizvi

Famous American novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. said, “Another flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.”

Four years ago Uttar Pradesh Former Chief Minister, Mayawati, presented Lucknowites with a dazzling refurbished market and the street of Hazratganj on its bicentennial celebrations. The mammoth project costing around Rs. 200 crore to the state exchequer was one of the best and praiseworthy decisions taken by the U.P. government to beautify and restore the heritage Hazratganj and its surrounding areas on completion of 200 years of the market. However, it’s done and dusted; the vintage market is struggling with the maintenance and is ebbing back to its sloppy way.

The upmarket vicinity was a treat to the eyes, people thronged the city’s main hub after renovation work, but it seems that the entire hullabaloo is receding with time. Though, the market area is still the most visited in terms of crowd, the maintenance is a major concern. The corners of the buildings have turned up into a spitting zone while others into garbage dumping sites. Garbage can be seen spilling over the installed dustbins. A trader in the market says that the authorities have simply made it, they are not worried about its upkeep.

The famous Victorian lamps, beautified the 200-year old market, lamps were installed at a distance of 10 metre, covering the entire 700-metre stretch from the main Hazratganj crossing at Café Coffee Day until the Post-Masters office. However, as soon as the sun goes down, the artificial lights do not illuminate. Many of the lights are not working. Fountains were also installed at three different places, but they remain closed for most of the time. The ones which are working continue to leak water, marooning the place. Boisterous encroachments have made life difficult for the pedestrians; hawkers are back to their old ways occupying the footpaths. Love- lane continues to boil with vendors invading the passage.

Lucknowites were thrilled, the authorities left no stone unturned to give the market a unique, eye-catching look with uniformly painted buildings, uniform sign- boards, fountains, benches, potted plants, wider roads, green patches on broader footpaths and the Victorian style lamp posts.

Moreover, Ganj was gifted with a parking lot to house over 1,000 cars at any given point of time. But it looks like it has done not much good to ease the traffic woes as another blot in the beleaguered market is of parking, despite having a multi- level two/four wheeler parking, the cars owners continue to flout the rules and park their vehicles on the road. Though, traffic cops show their determination and tow away the vehicles, the problem persists at large. Beaconed vehicles are more prone to this defiance. The parking lot was engineered to ease the traffic woes; however, it remains the same with the non- usage of the parking, instead people park their vehicles on the roads and in No- Parking zones.

Hazratganj is the heart of the capital and after renovation life flowed through its wide roads, the preserved architectural beauty of the buildings brought back some of the old grandeur to the market. The place attracted a large crowd seen after a very long time. Ganjing was strolling leisurely, and a treat to the eyes, but the way the situation has been, a fear of defacing Ganj can be the next worst thing. Its upto the Lucknowites to restore and preserve the rich heritage and culture associated with Hazratganj. Perhaps, the above aspect will give future generations a reason to celebrate if we sincerely want that to happen.

Writer is a freelance journalist and journalism student at Jamia Millia Islamia

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 1 Issue 11, Dated 05 February 2015)

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