Residents and JVM supporters in front of Mango Notified Area Committee office on Thursday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Protests over anomalies in the ambitious Mango water project, scheduled for inauguration next month, reached a feverish pitch on Thursday.
Nearly 100 residents, led by Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM) district president Firoz Khan, marched to the office of Mango Notified Area Committee (MNAC) around 11.15am and locked it up.
They demonstrated against “irregularities” in laying of pipelines and vented their anger against an alleged threat issued by MNAC special officer Sushil Kumar that supply to old connections would be stopped once the Rs 64.18-crore project was inaugurated on December 15.
“The MNAC is asking residents to clear pending water bills to avail of new connections. People are agitated because bills run up to thousands of rupees, charged for almost non-existent water services. Currently, citizens don’t even receive water supply once a day. When they do, it is a trickle. We want the government to waive dues and issue new connections,” said Khan.
The MNAC “office arrest” continued till 12.15pm. It was opened after Dhalbhum SDO Prem Ranjan gave a written assurance to protesters that supply to old connections would not be snapped till pipelines of the new system were laid in every neighbourhood.
“The existing system will continue till alternative arrangements are made. We will seek a government directive on bill waiver that has been demanded,” said the SDO.
Residents, who had gathered under the banner of Mango Vikas Samiti, also registered their grievances at the district collectorate and submitted a memorandum to East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal.
“Till date, water leaks from pipes; roads damaged while laying pipes have not been repaired; and nearly 30 per cent of residential areas have been excluded from the project. We want the administration to fix these irregularities before launch,” said Onkar Nath Singh, president of the Samiti.
Later in the afternoon, Kaushal held a review meeting at the district collectorate.
“At the meeting, executing agency Jusco said work on the water project would be completed by November 30 and leaks were being plugged during trials. We have asked Jusco to repair the roads soon,” said additional deputy commissioner Ganesh Kumar.
On areas excluded from the project, he said they would conduct a survey. “We will send our report to the government, seeking guidance.”
As a part of the Mango project, five towers have been constructed to supply 48 million litres of water daily for the next 24 years. At present, against a demand of six million litres per day, the densely populated area gets less than two million litres.
Besides the towers, a modernised water treatment plant and an intake reservoir on the banks of Subernarekha are also part of the infrastructure.