Garbage at Kotla Feroz Shah blot on Clean India

ASI blames visitors despite signs of bad maintenance

Even though the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is on, the national heritage sites seem to be untouched by such drives. Garbage strewn all over the ASI-protected Kotla Feroz Shah site in Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg on Wednesday showed that little has changed.

Visitors who come to offer prayers at the mosque on the premises of the heritage site regularly said the garbage there is a permanent eyesore.

However, ASI said pilgrims at the site often added to the garbage by feeding vultures on meat.

What comes as a surprise is there is low maintenance of the heritage site even though it is a ticketed monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

Most of the garbage was strewn near the pyramidal structure where the Ashoka Pillar is erected.

The mosque where people offer prayers also had garbage, dead rats and pigeon feathers inside. In the cells of the structure, mongooses were seen nibbling on dead rats.

“We come here to pray on Mondays to avoid the Thursday crowd. The cleanliness level at the site has not improved,” said Jennah, a resident of Bhajanpura. She was accompanied by two other sisters who claimed the same.

The site attracts a limited number of visitors on regular days.

“The highest numbers of visitors come here on Thursdays to offer prayers at the mosque. It is a common belief that the jiins present in the fort grant visitors their wishes on Thursdays,” said an official at the counter.

“On other weekdays, we get few visitors – something ranging between 30 and 50. Mondays see the lowest number as the HoHo (Hop On Hop Off) buses don’t ply,” added the official.

According to a senior official of the ASI, the site sees around 5,000 visitors a month. Also, sweepers at the site said they are not enough in numbers to take care of the entire campus.

“People dirty the mosque the most. It is difficult to manage with a few karamcharis here,” said a sweeper.

The park and the palace ruins areas look better maintained.

Staff crunch

ASI also admitted to facing staff crunch at its end. “We are doing our best to maintain the premises with limited resources. We are facing staff crunch problem as well as limited funds to engage daily-basis casual workers to clean up the monuments,” said the senior official. The garbage is usually cleaned in late evening or early morning, he added.

Also a significant number of pilgrims who feed vultures with meat pieces and other cooked food items add to the garbage, the official added.

The ASI had recently undertaken conservation of mosque, pyramidal structure and also built pathways for visitors.

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