Batan Talab at Chutia in Ranchi chokes on filth, while (right) hyacinth blankets Distillery Talab in Kokar. (Hardeep Singh)
Mounds of garbage on banks, floating polythene bags and filth in water. Ranchi’s ponds are fast turning into dumping grounds.
The capital and its suburbs once boasted over 100 ponds and water bodies that worked as natural cushions to harvest rainwater, thereby helping the state capital maintain its water table. But as unplanned realty expansion filled up many of the ponds, those that were left suffered from virtually no upkeep.
Ideally, ponds within a city should be fenced, regularly cleaned and beautified. But none of that is happening at landmarks such as Jail More Talab, Batan Talab in Chutia, Hatania Talab in Doranda, Ranchi Lake, Distillery Talab in Kokar, Argora Talab, Karam Toli Talab and Bhutaha Talab.
Kokar’s Distillery Talab, which smells the worst, is barely 100m away from Birsa Munda Samadhi Sthal.
Around two years ago, the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC), had decided to conduct a survey of all ponds, following which detailed project reports (DPRs) were to be prepared for their renovation and preservation.
In 2012, a survey revealed the civic body had over 30 ponds, nearly all in need of urgent care. This year, the ponds are in far worse state but talks are still on.
“This fiscal, we set aside Rs 2 crore for pond renovation, but with this amount we can take up only a few water bodies. We will construct staircases on banks of ponds used during Chhath,” said RMC’s public relations officer Naresh Sinha.
“It is true city ponds are neglected and we haven’t been able to do much to renovate them,” deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya, also a ward councillor in the last RMC board, said.
“We have the issue in mind but haven’t been able to renovate ponds due to funds crunch. We are thinking of outsourcing some ponds to private companies,” he added.
When basic dredging is a luxury, monitoring of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste inside the pond is unthinkable right now. But the long-term dangers of polythene bags in ponds also need to be addressed.
For daily sufferers like Shyam Kishore, a sattu stall owner near Jail More Talab, life is about living with stench.
“This year, the smell from the pond is worse. Commuters do not like to stop near my stall,” Kishore, who sells sattu sherbet and amjhora (boiled mango drink), rued. “This used to be a beautiful place once,” he added.