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Second life for city landmark

- Eviction orders at Aambagan after survey

All is not lost yet for Aambagan grounds, a nine-decade-old souvenir in the heart of the steel city that has fallen prey to encroachment.

The East Singhbhum district administration and Jusco, which owns the four-acre plot, have finally woken up to the pressing need of restoring the green lung to its former glory by getting rid of squatters, garbage and debris. Also, a boundary wall will be constructed to keep encroachers and litterbugs at bay.

The decision was taken on Tuesday after a joint team from the district administration and the Tata Steel subsidiary conducted a survey nine days after The Telegraph published a report, Squatters squeeze green lung, highlighting how the landmark was breathing uneasy.

Dhalbhum SDO Prem Ranjan, who led the district team and was accompanied by Jusco general manager (town services) Dhananjay Mishra, conceded that very less space was left on Aambagan grounds.

“Encroachments of different kinds — dumping of construction debris and garbage, parking of long-distance buses and cars and mushrooming of motor repair shops — have taken place. We have asked Jusco officials to carry out a drive to remove encroachers. The administration will extend full support,” the SDO said, adding that the crackdown would begin in two-three days.

Jusco general manager Mishra admitted that they decided to approach the district administration after reading The Telegraph report.

“Today (Tuesday), we carried out a survey and will remove the hurdles very soon with support from the administration. Once that’s done, we will set in motion our plans to construct a boundary wall with proper entry and exit gates to prevent encroachment, unauthorised parking and littering,” Mishra added.

A meeting has been called with the management of Aambagan Masjid, located on the southern side of the grounds, on Wednesday to discuss the issue of dumping construction materials, which is abetting pollution.

The green lung, which doubles up as playground for children apart from hosting fairs, exhibitions, political rallies and meetings, not to forget Durga Puja, is hemmed in by Rajasthan Vidya Mandir, a state-owned high school, in the north, The Bengal Club and residential apartments in the west and Thakurbari Road in the east.

Over three years, motor repair shops have mushroomed in the south and the west. Four-wheelers and two-wheelers of visitors to various commercial establishments use the ground as a parking lot on the eastern side while long-distance buses stay parked too.

Vice-president of The Bengal Club Raja Choudhary, who had earlier written to the district administration as well as Jusco, expressed relief that the squatters would finally be shown the door.

“Jusco should fence off the premises immediately after removing encroachers. This initiative should have been taken much earlier. However, there is still hope for Aambagan if Jusco is indeed serious,” Choudhary added.


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