Residents stage a dharna in front of Bagbera police station on Saturday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur, March 16: More than 100 residents of Bagbera, Ghaghidih and adjoining areas reeling under acute water crisis staged a daylong dharna today in front of Bagbera police station to force the state to execute a long-pending water project.
The protesters, under the banner of Sampurna Ghaghidih Vikash Samity (SGVS), also threatened to launch a two-day relay fast from Sunday. If that failed to evoke a positive response from the authorities, they would launch an indefinite hunger strike from March 19.
A delegation of the protesters also submitted a memorandum to governor Syed Ahmed through East Singhbhum DC Himani Pande and also sent him a fax to apprise him of their demands.
“We have tried all kinds of pressure tactics, including dharnas, demonstrations, padyatras, but only to get empty assurances. During our padyatra to the Assembly in August last year, former chief minister Arjun Munda and cabinet members assured us that the foundation stone of the project would be laid by December last year. However, nothing has been done yet,” rued samiti member Subodh Kumar Jha.
The Rs 132cr project sanctioned by the drinking water and sanitation department is yet to see the light of day despite being on paper since 2006. Five detailed project reports have been prepared, but there is nothing concrete to show for it on the ground.
Once ready, the project will benefit over 2 lakh residents of Bagbera, Kitadih, Karandih, Parsudih and Ghaghidih.
The residents are also concerned about the depleting groundwater table. “The water table has shrunk by at least 300ft but engineers were digging tube-wells only upto 150ft.As a result, they are unable to get water,” said Jha.
Executive engineer of the water department (Jamshedpur division) Raghunandan Sharma said their central design office raised objections to a few points presented in the project report of New Delhi-based Ramkey Enviro Limited.
“They will submit afresh, taking into account the objections, within a day or two. It is only after the central design office sanctions the report, tenders will be floated globally. It will take at least another year for execution,” the executive engineer explained.
Realising that their hardship was far from over, residents urged companies like Jusco and Uranium Corporation of India Limited to arrange for tankers to supply drinking water till the project became operational.