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Beautified pond back to dirty again

Trust Jharkhand to spend crores to renovate a public property and then let it wallow in neglect. The capital’s Line Tank pond is a classic example.

The 3.5-acre water body behind Ekka Albert Chowk, which was beautified at a cost of 2.43 crore but never officially inaugurated, is back to its former sullied state. If filth and other abandoned items floating on the water is an eyesore, the cylindrical structure at the centre that was supposed to hold the fountain is yet to find any utility.

Colour of the thick vegetation on either side of the pathway and gardens is anything but green, not to forget the garbage littered around the seats.

People washing clothes and utensils have become an everyday sight at the water body, which was to be developed into a tourist site.

What’s perhaps more shocking is that the authorities appeared clueless about the present condition of the pond, citing busy schedules for their failure to monitor its status.

“Honestly, I haven’t had the time to visit the place of late because of my hectic schedule. As far as I remember, we had outsourced the maintenance and upkeep job to a private agency. I have to review its status,” Ranchi deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey, who also happens to be the vice-chairman of Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) that had undertaken the beautification project.

Reminded that the pond was supposed to be thrown open to public last year, he added: “Yes, we wanted to develop it as a local tourist spot with some amusement activities. I will soon find out the details and let you know.”

RRDA secretary Pramod Singh could not be contacted for comments as his phone was switched off.

His secretary Sudarshan Singh informed that an officer, S. Gilani, was dealing with this project.

When contacted, Gilani blamed Prakash Construction Company, the agency that was handed over the contract to run and maintain it.

“We had leased the property to this city-based company for an annual fee of Rs 15 lakh per annum for a period of 15 years. According to the contract, it also has to invest between Rs 2 and Rs 5 crore in developing public amenities at the pond. Initially, while signing the contract, they paid Rs 3 lakh to us, but then we haven’t heard anything from them. I have been writing letters to them, but haven’t received any response.”

He added that he could not do a follow-up as he was busy due to the Lok Sabha elections, but promised to look into the issue soon.

A landmark in the state capital, Line Tank pond’s fate started turning around in 2011 when RRDA finalised realised the need to renovate it. A project report was drawn up to add facilities such as manicured gardens, a colourful fountain, pavements, seating arena, boating, security gates among others.

The project was outsourced to city-based Classic Coal Pvt Ltd, which began work in 2012 and finished everything within a year after which the RRDA roped in Prakash Construction.

Prakash Construction officials could not be contacted for comments.