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Soaked in tale of apathy, pond flunks test of time

- Patna Sahib landmark Mangles Tank turns into washermen’s hub, animals take a free bath

The Mangles Tank of Patna City has turned into a washermen’s paradise.

Once a popular hangout for the young and the old, the water body has been turned into a dhobi ghat, robbing residents of Patna Sahib a place to “be with the nature”.

None of the contestants fighting the Lok Sabha elections from the Patna Sahib constituency has raised the issue of giving the pond a facelift.

The mud and the slush at the gate and the defunct fountain at the park narrated a tale of apathy on the part of the authorities concerned.

The pond was once considered sacred for offering arghya during Chhath. However, for the past three years, garbage is openly dumped in it, stopping people from visiting the pond during festivities.

Located south of Patna City Chowk, the tank was named after A.C. Mangles, the then collector of Patna and ex officio chairman of Patna Municipality in 1876. Mangles had dug it. Prior to this, Sheikh Matha, a sepoy in the Sheikh Islam Maqsudi army used to earn his livelihood near a small water body by making bricks. It was then called Sheikh Matha Garhi or pond. The tank is “S-shaped”.

Resident of Chowk locality, 71-year-old Shyam Sunder Sharaf shared some memories of the pond.

“There was a time when there was a tennis and a volleyball court near the pond. It was the only place for residents to take a morning stroll. There used to be a lot of greenery then. However, because of poor maintenance, the pond is now used by washermen. People simply dump garbage in the pond,” Sharaf said.

He added that there were around 1,000 trees then but most of them have withered.

“This was the place where Mahatma Gandhi, Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and Jayaprakash Narayan addressed public meetings. The meetings were organised at the ground near the Mangles Tank. It’s shocking that no candidate from Patna Sahib constituency is taking up the issue of renovating the pond,” he said.

Spread over 2.5km, the state government tried renovating the pond to make it one of the hotspots of Patna City with the help of Bihar State Road Development Corporation. An executive engineer with the corporation said: “We had renovated the Mangles Tank in 2013 and developed it into a model park. It was done at a cost of Rs 80 lakh. In March 2014, we had handed over the pond to the sub-divisional officer (SDO) of Patna City. It was the duty of the SDO, the residents, the MLA and the MP of the constituency to keep the pond in good shape.”

When asked who is responsible for the pond’s maintenance, the Patna City SDO, Thyagrajan S.M., said: “I admit that the condition of the pond is not good. I have asked the Patna Municipal Corporation to prepare an estimate to renovate it. Once the elections are over, we will beautify it.”

When contacted, JD(U) candidate from Patna Sahib Gopal Prasad Sinha stressed on developing the pond once he is voted to power. “Once I become the MP, the historic pond would be developed surely. Its glory would be restored,” said the renowned neurologist.