Unholy smoke wraps shrine

Golden Temple,one of the country's holiest shrines and a known tourist destination,is facing a slew of problems.

Written by Harpreet Bajwa | Chandigarh | Published: January 20, 2009 12:45 am

Golden Temple,one of the country’s holiest shrines and a known tourist destination,is facing a slew of problems. A recent study by the Central Pollution Control Board,which has been submitted to the Punjab government,says chaotic traffic,poor waste management,lack of facilities for devotees,a visual clutter of hoardings and poor water management at the temple severely ail the shrine.

The study has made several recommendations,including shifting of goldsmiths,hotels and dhabas from outside the confines of the walled city,use of alternative fuel and proper traffic management,to save the temple.

The water supply system at the Golden Temple comprises six submersible pumps and an underground drain that provides water for the sarovar. But the waste water is discharged without any proper treatment in city’s sewers at three discharge points located towards Atta Mandi,Ghanta Ghar and Sarai side. The sarovar,however,has an inbuilt purification system and about one-fourth of sarovar’s water is cleaned every day.

Though the leftover food from the shrine is turned into animal feed,management of the sarais’ waste is not very efficient,the report says. The study says on an average,around 4,000 people stay in these rest houses,and the per capita solid waste generation is around 500 grams per day.

The study states the suspended particulate matter (SPM) around the Golden Temple is 358 mg,which is much beyond the prescribed limit of 200 mg. SPM,nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide levels at the Golden Temple are much higher than at the Taj Mahal. The SPM at the Taj Mahal is 296.

Water pollution has also touched alarming levels. About 4,500 cubic metres of water is used every day at the Golden Temple for various purposes,including cooking langar,karah parshad,washing of utensils and cleaning the floor,and of this about 80 per cent is converted into waste per day. The entire waste water is discharged into the city sewers.

The study says that vehicles are a major source of pollution,and the problem is exacerbated by generator sets,cottage industries and biomass incineration.

The city should introduce green buildings,use alternate energy sources and adopt water conservation measurements and set up treatment plants,recommends the report,adding that detergents should not be used for washing and the purification plant for sarovar water should be augmented.

SGPC Secretary Dalmegh Singh says,”I know about the report,but we have taken certain measures,like shutting down diesel generator and switching to electricity,to check pollution. All the other recommendations will be abided by the committee.”

Confirming that the report has been submitted to the Punjab Pollution Control Board,its chairman Yogesh Goel says,”We will consider all the recommendations.”

Count this
* On average,70,000- 80,000 people visit the Golden Temple every day. This number increases to 1.25 lakh to 1.5 lakh on weekends. On festivals,the number swells to six lakh.
* On days other than Gurpurabs,about 10,000 devotees take a holy dip,and on auspicious occasions,the number rises to 50,000.
* About 50 per cent of the devotees partake langar.
* About 4,000 persons stay in different sarais around the complex daily.

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