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Vandals blow light out of beauty

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 21: One hand repairs and restores while another damages and vandalises.

As the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation gives finishing touches to the beautification and restoration of Bindusagar Lake, thugs have damaged some of the decorative light posts and floral motifs on the new parapet around the holy water body.

Bindusagar, one of the holiest heritage lakes in the city, is spread over 7.4 hectares and is surrounded by several temples and monuments.

“After a long time, the state government had taken up conservation work of the lake. The new laterite wall has given a fresh look to the ghats and a new identity to the area dotted with ancient temples. People should learn to respect their own heritage,” said heritage conservation activist Surya Narayan Das, a resident of Gangotri Nagar.

Das was sad to find decorative light posts, put up as part of the lake’s renovation programme, vandalised.

Local resident Adhirath Mohapatra said the goons take advantage of the malfunctioning streetlights on the eastern bank of the lake.

“Taking advantage of the relative darkness, thugs hang around near the new wall. If this goes on, floral motifs on the new wall will continue to be vandalised,” Mohapatra said.

President of the Indian Institution of Architects (Odisha chapter), Akshaya Beuria, called the act “distasteful” and hoped the authorities would take prompt action.

“People should understand that the beautification work is for them and it is their property. They must protect and respect it. After all, the authorities can’t always keep tabs on it.”

Municipal commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra was upset with the news of vandalism on the newly constructed wall on the eastern bank of Bindusagar.

“We are planning to build many beautiful structures for future generations to enjoy. The beautification drive of the heritage lake was a step in this direction. People have to respect their heritage. Otherwise, all restoration and renovation work will be meaningless,” he said.

The beautification and restoration work of the lake started five years ago and might take another month or two to be completed. Although the corporation had earlier set the end of June as deadline, the restoration work was delayed. The work includes erecting boundary walls, using biological agents to remove toxic wastes from water, diverting sewage from nearby colonies, constructing ghats around the lake and illumination.

Bindusagar Lake is included in the National Lake Conservation Plan of the Union ministry of environment and forests.

According to the plan, the lake was to be renovated at an estimated cost of Rs 9.37 crore. While Rs 6.1 crore was spent under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), another Rs 3.35 crore came from the National River Conservation Directorate (NRCD).

Sources in the corporation said Rs 4.2 crore was released in three phases under the urban renewal mission, while another Rs 3.22 crore was released by the NRCD. While the civic authorities have already spent more money allotted to them under the JNNURM, the corporation is yet to utilise the funding given by the NRDC.

The western end of the lake now has a medicinal plant garden called Ekamra Van, which was developed by the forest department. The garden is popular with visitors, especially state guests, as it enjoys the patronage of chief minister Naveen Patnaik.