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Thirst triggers pond cry

- Birsanagar seeks new life for encroached water body

A depleting water table and an ensuing acute crisis of the lifeline have jolted the residents of Birsanagar on Jamshedpur’s outskirts out of their slumber, who are now clamouring for the restoration of an old pond that has turned into a marshy patch.

On Tuesday, the residents staged an agitation and submitted a memorandum to East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal and deputy collector (land reforms), seeking removal of encroachments that they claim are the biggest bane for the water body in zone No. 3 of Birsanagar.

“We have submitted a petition, urging the administration to prevent encroachments at the pond that can bail us out from the current water crisis. If nothing happens, we may be forced to resort to some drastic steps. After removing the encroachments, the administration should fence off the pond and beautify it,” said Rockey Kumar, a resident of the area.

The nearly one-acre pond had been notified in the 1972 survey of the then Bihar government as a state property. More than four decades later, the water is hardly visible with grasses and plants covering the surface and concrete structures all around. Heaps of bricks and stone chips lie on the sides, a testimony to the rampant constructions.

“The pond was a landmark in our block. Religious festivities like Chhath used to be performed here. But over the last three-four years, houses have come up on the water body. The unauthorised constructions have reached such a proportion that the pond is hardly visible now. It would have been of great help during water crisis in summer,” said a senior citizen, G. Minz (68), also the mukhiya of the area.

The parched locality, which has nearly 3,000 houses and a populace of nearly 10,000, is yet to see commissioning of the much-touted Rs 28 crore Moharda drinking water project.

“We are solely dependent on tube wells, but in the last two years, the water table went down drastically. Old tube wells are not drawing water. Earlier, we could get water after digging 100 feet. Now, we have to drill for more than 300 feet. If ponds and lakes are allowed to be encroached upon like this, we will face tougher days,” said Rozita Tigga, a homemaker.

When contacted, deputy commissioner Kaushal said he would look into the complaint and forward it to government officials concerned.