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Cleaning of heritage Dhanbad pond begins

Dhanbad Municipal Corporation (DMC) has started dewatering the historic Raja Talab to pave the way for the desilting process even though it is yet to finalise a cleaning agency.

Civic body workers got cracking under the supervision of executive officer of Jharia circle of DMC Brijnandan Ram from Thursday, digging a gully on the pond’s embankment towards the northeastern side to drain out water.

On Friday, two more channels were dug on the same side in the presence of Anup Sao, councillor of ward No. 37, where the pond is located.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the civic body’s chief executive officer Balmukund Jha said dewatering had been initiated to avoid any delay in desilting, which will be done by an agency that is yet to be chosen.

“The mud needs to dry for around 15 days after completion of dewatering in order to carry out proper desilting. We would like to complete the twin jobs of dewatering and desilting before the onset of monsoon,” said Jha.

The beautification project of Raja Talab, which is now a sullied shadow of its former self, will be carried out in two phases. It had been decided earlier that first, the picturesque pond would be cleaned and then beautified as part of the renovation exercise.

While DMC has taken the responsibility of cleaning, the state urban development department will carry out the beautification drive.

The first phase will include dewatering and desilting for which the civic body is spending Rs 48 lakh. The largesse was sanctioned in the last week of January.

The urban development department will plant trees and install streetlights in the second phase.

However, the cost of the beautification drive will be fixed only after the detailed project report (DPR) is prepared.

Built on 8.26 acres provided by the king of Jharia estate Durga Prasad Singh in early 20th century, the pond used to be the centre of all religious activities.

But now, it is in a poor shape, thanks to a host of issues including encroachment on the southern bank and pollution caused by local residents, who use the water body for bathing and washing clothes and utensils.

Notably, a contract worth Rs 25 lakh was awarded to one Sujit Construction in 2010 for beautification work. However, the company left the job midway, as one of its JCB machines could not be operated due to heavy inflow of drain water.

The company was paid only Rs 6 lakh and was blacklisted by DMC.

In 2011, another contractor was roped in to build a circular drain around Raja Talab to prevent inflow of drain water. But the beautification work never took place.

, prompting Jharia residents under the leadership of councillor Sao to launch a series of protests, including a signature campaign and fast-unto-death earlier this year.