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HC seeks status of sewer project

Jharkhand High Court on Friday asked the state and Union governments to inform it about the steps taken for commissioning the long-pending multi-crore sewer system in Ranchi.

A division bench of Chief Justice R. Banumathi and Justice S. Chandrashekhar, which was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Lallan Kumar Sharma, enquired from the Centre about the status of releasing funds for the proposed JNNURM project that could have solved the state capitalís drainage woes.

Additional solicitor-general of India Mokhtar Khan, who is representing the Union government in the case, informed the court that paper work for release of Rs 60 crore for the first phase of the project has been completed.

The court directed Khan to file an affidavit, confirming the facts stated by him.

The case will be again heard after a fortnight.

The high courtís enquiry comes at a time another sewer project across 55 wards of the city has failed to kick off, thanks to an ongoing war between Ranchi Municipal Corporationís CEO Manoj Kumar and deputy mayor Sanjeev Vijayvargiya over distribution of Rs 6.97 crore allocated by the state urban development department.

The sum needs to be utilised in the current fiscal, ending on March 31, failing which the funds will go back.

As for the JNNURM project, Sharma had originally filed the PIL for removal of encroachments from Harmu rivulet, which is choked with garbage. He pointed out that in the absence of a drainage system in the city, sewage was being dumped into the water body.

The high court had disposed of the PIL and ordered the government to come up with a drainage system.

Sharma filed the contempt petition when the government failed to execute the project. During earlier hearings, the state had informed the court that work for construction of drains was in progress and the finance department had written to the Union government for sanction of funds for the project, which is to be completed in four phases.

The court was further told that applications have been sent for getting funds to the tune of Rs 309 crore for the first phase.