Water hyacinths being cleared from Dhanbad’s Raja Talab on Thursday. Picture by Gautam Dey
There is hope of revival for Jharia’s revered Raja Talab.
On August 13, The Telegraph had highlighted how the once holy pond had been allowed to turn into an unholy mess. Less than a month later, on September 9, work to clear the all-encompassing water hyacinth from the surface of the pond began, and now, almost 50 per cent of the weed cover is gone, revealing the polluted water beneath.
The 100-metre water body, dug in the early 1920s by the Jharia royal family fell on hard times as it became a communal place for washing clothes, bathing, and a dumping ground for cowsheds and a sewer outlet over the years.
The latest effort to restore the reservoir to its former glory has 20 labourers engaged by three wards of Jharia — Koiribandh, Lal Bazar and Hethli Bandh — cleaning the pond under the supervision of executive officer of Jharia, Katras and Sindri circle of Dhanbad Muncipal Corporation, Brijnandan Ram.
Ram said the hyacinth clearing work will continue till Chhath so that vratis can pray in clean water. “Once the hyacinth is cleared, the water would be treated with bleaching powder and other chemicals,” he said, adding that construction of a PCC road around the embankment would be completed after Durga Puja.
“The pond will also have to be cleared of debris after Durga Puja as all idols of Jharia are immersed here,” said Ram, adding that power connection would be provided for 22 streetlights that have been installed around the pond.
The lights were installed by Sujit Construction, a contractor engaged by Dhanbad Municipal Corporation two years ago to carry out boulder pitching work to strengthen the embankment, fence the pond to keep away cattle, install lights, build a PCC road around the water body and carry out desilting.
However, the contractor constructed only 500m of the road, installed the lights and then stopped work on the plea that its equipment being used for desilting had got stuck in the mud and rendered useless.
Chief Executive officer of Dhanbad Municipal Corporation A.K. Pandey said connection to the lights and other works would begin after Durga Puja. Sujit Construction had yet not been paid the entire Rs 25 lakh due to it for the project as they had left the work incomplete. It had been asked to complete all work.
Deputy mayor Niraj Singh appealed to local residents to keep the pond clean and not treat it as a garbage dump.
Councilor of Ward Number 37 Anup Sao said he would request Dhanbad MP P.N. Singh and Jharia MLA Kunti Singh to contribute for the beautification of the pond which was once considered the holiest in the district.