The pond at Jail More, Ranchi, is an eyesore on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
F for faith. F for fervour. F for festival. And, F for filth.
The back-to-back celebrations of Ganesh and Vishwakarma pujas have turned the crystal clear waters of the one-acre pond in the heart of Ranchi into a stinking puddle saturated with rotting flowers, fruits, plastic, straw and wood.
While the foul smell and foetid air have made life of Jail More residents a living hell, the capital’s civic guardian RMC wants to wait for a few more days to allow “more immersions” before embarking on a purgatory mission.
“Ever since the visarjan (immersion), the talab has become an eyesore. We have not seen a single RMC safai karamchari in days. The water has already become so dirty and we have Durga Puja and Chhath on the radar,” said Neeraj Kumar, who has been living in the area for two decades.
Not just residents, trekker drivers and their passengers bound for Ramgarh and Hazaribagh are at the receiving end too. “Humlogon ko apni gadi lagane mein bahut dikkat hoti hai. Jab se visarjan hua hai, tab se ye talab se badbu aati hai (Parking our vehicles here has become difficult. Ever since the immersions, the pond is letting out foul smell),” said Ram Singh, who owns a trekker.
Local crusaders like Titu Tirkey have already started doing their bit by fishing out floating frames from the waters. But, even their hands are tied when it comes to chemical contamination, thanks to the colours and plaster of Paris used to make Ganesh and Vishwakarma idols.
“Hum kuch log mil kar puja ka samaan aur bhagwan ki murti ko pani se bahar nikale hai aur kinare rakh diye hai. Humlog nahi chahte ye talab ka pani ganda ho (We have teemed up and removed some of the puja paraphernalia. We don’t want this pond to get dirty),” Tirkey said.
He added that frequent showers were carrying the refuse back into the pond and the RMC needed to act fast.
Passer-by Ranjit Ekka expressed concern over ecological balance and human health. “Chemical contamination for a prolonged period will take a toll on aquatic life. Fish and plants will die. Also, the dirty and stagnant water will become a breeding ground for vectors that cause malaria and dengue,” he said.
Civic officials, however, remain unfazed.
“Immersion will take place for the next few days. We will start a cleanliness drive very soon (read after immersions are over),” said RMC deputy CEO Shailendra Kumar Lal.
He added: “All ponds will be cleaned before Chhath for which a special team will be constituted. So far, we have already started work at Bada Talab, Kadru Talab and Chadri Talab. The pond near Jail More will be cleaned too.”