Lucknow Diaries: Smog situation ignored, Awadhi architectural grandeur and civic poll fever grips the city
A thick layer of smog has enveloped the city, with around 20 lakh private and 50,000 commercial vehicles spitting toxic fumes on its roads but nobody seems to care about the city.
Lucknow’s smog nobody’s worry
The smog and pollution in Delhi has hit national headlines and has kept the authorities on their toes to try and find a solution. But no one appears to be bothered about the city of nawabs, where the air quality index (AQI) has been just as bad as the national capital over the past few weeks. A thick layer of smog has enveloped the city, with around 20 lakh private and 50,000 commercial vehicles spitting toxic fumes on its roads. The AQI has been recorded at over 400 for the last one week while it touched a high of 484 on Tuesday. Perhaps the rising graph of pollution has finally shaken the authorities, who huddled on Wednesday to chalk out a concrete strategy to fight the pollution. Or maybe, they have taken cue from the hullabaloo over the smog emergency in Delhi. But Lucknow residents are still wondering, as Rahul Gandhi said, “Seene mein jalan, aankhon mein toofan sa kyun hai!”
Restoring the city skyline
The Lucknow skyline, once dotted with the Awadhi architectural grandeur, now stands marred by over 2,000 illegal rooftop hoardings. The city had only about 500 legal hoardings, rest are illegal. But as the state capital is witnessing one of the stiffest civic polls this time, the district administration has started a drive against illegal hoardings in the name of abiding by the model code of conduct. The drive has miffed the advertisers and Lucknow Municipal Corporation who allowed such illegal hoardings to come up (no prizes for guessing why). But the residents are not complaining, with the city restored to its nawabi splendour.
Poll fever grips city
As Lucknow is witnessing the toughest ever urban local body poll this time, the poll fever is catching up amid thickening political fog. Taking no chances, the bigwigs of all major political parties – the SP, the BSP and the Congress, who were trounced in the last Assembly elections --- are going all-out to woo the voters. Big guns do not usually hit the streets for civic polls. But in a rare sight, political stalwarts like Raj Babbar and Akhilesh Yadav can be spotted in localities addressing three-four back-to-back rallies daily, though BSP supremo Mayawati is yet to emerge from her palatial confines. It seems the SP-Congress combine see it as an opportunity to revive their party organisation at the grassroots level.
Feast for the eyes
Lucknow has always been a confluence of cultures. On Tuesday evening, the city saw a beautiful amalgam of sufi and classical at the Lucknow International Festival of Performing Arts. Kathak dancer Anjali Patil and her troupe from Canada presented ‘Mohe apne hi rang mein rang de rangeele’, a spell-binding sufi sequence of dance, music and light-and-sound show, leaving the audiences craving for more. It was a fest for the eyes as music and dance were blended enchantingly with spiritualism, transporting the connoisseurs into a world replete with beauty and bliss.