Mountains of garbage and despair in India's dirtiest city

Mountains of garbage and despair in India's dirtiest city
Mon Oct 2, 2017 08:38:11

Flies throng over piles of faeces, the drains overflow with sewage and the foul smell in the air is inescapable.

AFP-- Welcome to Awas Vikas: one of the most exclusive parts of Gonda, a city suffering the ignominy of being branded the dirtiest in India.

Even in such upmarket areas, garbage trucks are rarely seen, green spaces are littered with rubbish, and residents are desperate for their bickering leaders to bring about change.

Gonda, 80 miles (125 kilometres) from the Uttar Pradesh state capital of Lucknow, was best known as a quiet stopover point for people travelling to Nepal or to see the region's temples.

Infamy arrived in May when Gonda came bottom of an Indian government cleanliness survey of 434 cities. The study looked at the use of toilets, waste collection, civic infrastructure and other areas.

It is a daily battle for pedestrians and cars to navigate the piles of plastic bottles, discarded food containers and animal excreta.

The stray cows love it, but residents in Awas Vikas are at breaking point.

"The filth and the stench have made us infamous across the country," said Durgesh Mishra, gesturing desolately at a crater in the road by his house, which is now filled with dirty water and buzzing with mosquitoes.

"It is a really pathetic state of affairs. We've been rated as India's dirtiest -- just look around and you can see it's a perfect ranking. You can't imagine how we live here," he added.

Most locals hope the 'dirtiest city' accolade will shame politicians into action and break the cycle of civic apathy and corruption, which is blamed for the mess.

"The manpower and infrastructure issues that we face today are a result of unplanned development over the last 10 years," Rajiv Rastogi, a trader and veteran local politician told AFP.

Political rivalry between Gonda and the Uttar Pradesh state government has also bogged down projects.

Signs of the dysfunction are everywhere.

Houses have been abandoned and left to decay, while neighbourhood parks and ponds have become dumping grounds.

Those who can afford it, hire labourers to clear garbage from outside their homes -- even if that means discarding it out of sight in another part of town.

Kanshiram colony is regarded by some as the most insalubrious part of India's dirtiest city.

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