CRPF jawans remove water hyacinths from Hazaribagh lake two. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
CRPF jawans never shy away from a war. No matter what is the colour of the enemy, red or green, they live to protect society from all evils.
Having won many a battle against the Maoists in the state’s hinterlands, personnel of this paramilitary force have now engaged themselves in a crusade to rejuvenate the historic Hazaribagh lakes.
Armed with shovels, spades and ropes, and not sophisticated INSAS or AK-47 rifles, around 60-70 jawans have been jumping into the four water bodies to free them from hyacinths for nearly two weeks now.
Commandant of 22 battalion, CRPF, Munna Kumar Singh said this daily campaign would continue till the lakes were completely clean.
“The objective is to clean up the lakes before Chhath festival this November,” Singh told The Telegraph.
Every day, jawans spend around two hours — from 6am to 8am — in the lakes. “On the first day, around 600 jawans had come for the work. Now, 60-70 jawans are skipping PT classes every morning and going to the lakes,” Singh added.
He said that the campaign was launched on September 18 after deputy commissioner Sunil Kumar urged CRPF officials to do something to save the lakes.
The Bada Jheel (big lake) has been the main challenge so far. Apart from hyacinths, the personnel are having a tough time removing grass from its banks.
Initially, the jawans thought they would complete the task in a day. But, then they realised that it was a deep-rooted problem and would need months. “We have resolved to do it at any cost,” the CRPF commandant maintained.
Indira Gandhi Balika Awasiya Vidyalaya, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Central Jail and several district administrative and police offices are situated around the lakes.
Also, residential quarters of some senior administrative officials have come up on the banks of the lakes over the years. Yet, the lakes were a telling tale of the administration’s apathy till CRPF jawans came.
“The scenario has improved in the last seven days. The jawans have removed some hyacinths from the water and grass from the banks,” Ramesh Sinha, who visits the lakes every morning, said.
A medical representative, Ramesh added that what they were doing was really praiseworthy. “Salute to them.”
The jawans’ efforts have started reflecting in the form of sunshine from the water surface, which has been covered by the green leaves for years.
The CRPF commandant urged residents to join the campaign. “People should realise that the lakes belong to them. Keeping them clean is their responsibility, too,” Singh said.
The district administration is providing tractors and labourers to carry away the filth removed from the lakes.
The four lakes date back to the 1830s. A tribal agitation had prompted East India Company Captain Wilkinson to order mass arrests. But, the town had no prison and the arrested tribals had to be lodged at various guest houses and quarters of Englishmen.
Wilkinson had then ordered construction of a jail on a 50acre plot. The construction began in 1831 and was completed 30 years later to give what Hazaribagh today knows as Loknayak Jai Prakash Narayan Central Jail.
The mammoth project needed colossal quantity of clay for which four giant craters were dug up. These later became lakes.