Garbage, long-distance buses and construction material (right) encroach upon Aambagan grounds in Sakchi on Monday. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
A social organisation in the steel city has threatened an indefinite agitation if steps are not immediately taken to clear Aambagan grounds of encroachment and a boundary erected to thwart future invasion.
“We are shocked to see how Aambagan is losing ground. It is very sad that the once hub of socio-cultural activities has been reduced to a makeshift and polluted motor garage. How long will city guardians take to revive the green lung?” said Sanjay Singh, a member of Jan Satyagraha and resident of Tinplate in Golmuri, 4km from Aambagan.
Members of Jan Satyagraha were responding to an article published in The Telegraph on Monday, highlighting how squatters were squeezing the nine-decade-old Sakchi landmark while the administration turned a blind eye to the menace and pleas of local residents fell on deaf ears.
Demonstrating for half an hour in front of the East Singhbhum district collectorate, 11 members of the outfit expressed their dismay at administrative apathy.
Later, they submitted a memorandum to deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal, SSP Amol V. Homkar and Jusco general manager (town services) Dhananjay Mishra, seeking speedy redress.
Singh said that they had informed the administrative top brass that if the situation did not improve within a week, they would be compelled to launch an indefinite agitation near Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s bust in Aambagan.
“We cannot tolerate this murder of a landmark. We shall sit on a dharna until encroachment is removed. We want a boundary wall and a plantation drive too,” he added.
The Telegraph had reported how motor repair shops usurped the grounds over the years and how vehicles — from long-distance buses to four-wheelers of visitors to the area — now use the sprawling four acres as a parking zone.
A spot inspection on Monday held up the same disappointing picture. While mounds of construction material and garbage littered the eastern side, buses stood ground as they always do.
Deputy commissioner Kaushal confirmed that he had received the memorandum from the social organisation. “We are aware of the situation and will conduct a survey of the ground soon. Thereafter, necessary steps will be taken to remove encroachment,” he promised.
Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan had earlier claimed that they had plans to fence off the ground and have gates installed to prevent further encroachment.
“But, we cannot evict squatters on our own. The administration has to help us since this is a public ground. Once the administration clears the ground, we shall erect the fence,” he had said.
On Monday, Rajan sounded more co-operative when he said they were prepared to evict squatters. “If the administration asks us to remove encroachment with police protection, we will do so.”