A view of the road leading to the Golden Temple encroached upon by vendors in Amritsar

Encroachments block Golden Temple road

Amritsar, Punjab: Numerous drives by the civic authorities to free the approaching road and footpaths to the Golden Temple from encroachments have failed to yield results.

The approach road to the Golden Temple, which receives more visitors than Taj Mahal, has too little space for the pedestrians on way to the shrine. The stretch is almost non-existent as most part of it has been encroached upon by shopkeepers and vendors.

The visitors have to find space to move amidst goods displayed on the footpaths. Shopkeepers have exhibited their goods up to the middle of the footpaths from the Hall Gate to the Golden Temple, which hinders pedestrian movement. At some places, the entire footpath is blocked by goods.

Some merchants have even placed tables and small folding beds on the path to display their products, which range from clothes to electronic appliances. Vehicles parked on the roadside add to the visitors woes. It is difficult to move on foot amidst the rush of vehicles.

Harjit Singh, a pilgrim from Sonepat, said, “When you are walking on the road, you always fear that some vehicle will hit you from behind. I had to remain extra alert to save myself from these vehicles.” He said footpaths on the way to the shrine should be cleared so that visitors did not face any difficulty while walking to the shrine.

After one crosses the Saragarhi parking, the number of encroachments on the footpaths rises considerably. These also hinder the smooth flow of vehicular traffic.

Another pilgrim from Mohali, Prabh Inder Singh, said, “The vehicles move at a snail’s pace as the people walk in the middle of road since there is no space left on the footpath.” He said footpaths should be cleared for the walkers so as to reduce traffic jams in the area. It was convenient to reach the city all the way from Mohali, but to get to the parking lot after entering Hall Gate was an uphill task demanding a lot of patience, added Prabh Inder.

Even quacks and small-time vendors have set up their shops on the footpaths. Hand-driven carts selling food and other commodities also encroach space along with others, causing inconvenience to the people moving on the foot.

Satnam Singh, a hotelier, said thousands of people visit the Golden Temple and other Sikh holy shrines every day. All might be going back with the same impression that people here were not law-abiding residents, as they encroach upon public properties.

Meanwhile, Municipal Commissioner DPS Kharbanda said a strict vigil was being maintained on the hand-driven carts selling food items and other vendors to prevent them from encroaching on the space along the road to the Golden Temple.

Source: The Tribune

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