While maintaining sanitation at pilgrim centres is important, gram panchayat authorities at Basar in Nirmal district do not seem to believe in this. Basar village, which is a major gram panchayat, and the area associated with the temple of Goddess Gnana Saraswati are a real mess so far as sanitation is concerned, with both locals and pilgrims facing problems.

The lanes inside the village are slushy and piles of garbage can be seen on the ghats on river Godavari where thousands of pilgrims take a holy dip daily. The garbage piles speak a lot about the sanitary conditions, especially in the monsoon.

“It is the responsibility of the gram panchayat, but we maintain the sanitation at the ghats. We are cleaning the ghats regularly,” claimed the Executive Officer of Gnana Saraswati temple committee, A. Sudhakar Reddy reacting to reports of garbage piling up on the ghats.

The ghats are used by an average of 5,000 pilgrims every day and the number doubles on Fridays and general holidays. As many as 50,000 pilgrims visit the temple town daily during Dasara Navaratris and about one lakh on the occasion of Vasantha Panchami festival.

These figures give an inkling into the quantum of refuse that can be produced but the gram panchayat is running short of workers like sweepers. It has only eight sweepers who need to keep the roads clean everyday. The rainfall has resulted in roads turning into slush tracks which has made life difficult even for pedestrians. “We are laying cement road inside the village and gradually this problem will be taken care of,” asserted Basar gram panchayat Executive Officer Tirupathi Reddy. “We are also educating shopkeepers near the temple not to litter. They should collect their daily refuse in a container or some such thing so that it can be loaded on the tractor which does rounds for the purpose,” Mr. Reddy added of the efforts being made by the gram panchayat in maintaining sanitation.

The claims were, however, countered by pilgrim Bobbili Asha Reddy, a housewife from Malkajgiri in Hyderabad. “Our family visits Basar at least two times every year and we have always found the place to be dirty,” she pointed out.

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