| Madartala Jheel, all but choked by garbage and water hyacinth. Picture by Pabitra Das
A vast waterbody in Golf Garden, south Calcutta, stands the risk of getting choked by water hyacinth and garbage, thanks to 'encroachers' and administrative apathy.
Covering three acres, Madartala Jheel, which falls under scheme no. 118 of the Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT), in the Jadavpur police station area, was to have been converted into a full-fledged swimming pool.
Instead, it is now a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Appeals to save the waterbody to even chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee seem to have gone unheeded.
According to A.K. Sinha, secretary of Golf Garden Residents' Welfare Association, the CIT had once thought of naming the waterbody after poet Sukanta Bhattacharjee. 'This is, perhaps, the only source of water in the event of a fire in this locality,' he added.
Over the years, encroachers and residents of unauthorised buildings, that have come up along the banks, have indiscriminately dumped garbage into the Jheel. Besides, sewerage lines from these buildings empty into the waterbody.
The 300-odd families of Golf Garden are now apprehending an outbreak of malaria. 'We have brought this matter to the notice of the chief minister and to other authorities, but no action has been initiated,' said association president Ranajit Mukherjee.
Narayan Chakraborty, who lives close to the waterbody, said: 'It is getting more and more difficult, with the slum-dwellers creating a nuisance and the water getting dirtier by the day.'
'The area is always littered. Soiled paper, plastic bags and other waste are rendering conditions very unhygienic,' complained Salil Chakraborty, another resident. The residents have engaged private sweepers, since the Calcutta Municipal Corporation's conservancy staff sweep the area only once a month.
'Municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya has finally given us an appointment on Tuesday to discuss our problems,' Chakraborty told Metro.
'I am aware of the problem. I will visit the area again to discuss the issue with the residents and try to arrive at an amicable solution,' the minister said.