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Century-old pond turns into cesspool

- Drain water, waste flow into Harmu landmark, RMC unconcerned

At a time when rivers and lakes are drying up and the water table is shrinking drastically in the state capital, the civic custodians are surprisingly letting a landmark water body rot in Harmu.

For two months, sewage and waste water from every household in the locality have been flowing into the century-old Argora pond along Harmu Bypass, a stone’s throw from Team India skipper M.S. Dhoni’s residence, after a drain in an adjacent plot was blocked.

Call it a civic oversight or simple lack of planning, the drain, the main outlet of the entire area, had been constructed in such a way that it opened into the private plot, much to the chagrin of its rightful owner Subhash Sahu, who eventually raised a boundary wall.

Consequently, the drain was closed, causing waste water to flow into the 3.62-acre Argora pond, which once used to be the centre of all religious functions, and turning it into a cesspool of filth and dirt.

“When the plot owner constructed the boundary wall around his land, he blocked the mouth of the drain that had been built by the government. As a result, the sewage that’s coming out from various households has automatically started flowing into the pond as it is located in low-lying area,” explained K. Prasad, a retired mining engineer of Coal India Limited, who resides in a double-storeyed building near the lake.

A retired assistant commissioner of the provident fund department, R.N. Ambastha, supported him.

“The drain had been discharging waste water in the plot in question for years. Suddenly, a wall was built around the land two months ago and the drain was closed. We have informed the matter to councillor of ward No. 37 under which the pond falls. A solution is yet to be worked out,” Ambastha added.

Another local resident Sachidanand Sahu said: “Several attempts have been made to make the civic authorities aware of the drainage problems faced by us. But in vain. When it rains heavily, water enters our houses because of the poor drainage system, giving rise to mosquitoes.”

When contacted, councillor Arun Kumar Jha admitted to the mess. “Efforts were made to sort out the problem after speaking to plot owner Subhash Sahu. But he is not willing to listen. We have now approached chief executive officer of RMC Manoj Kumar.”

But the CEO expressed his inability to speak on the issue, saying he was “busy preparing for a funeral of a relative”.

Newly elected mayor Asha Lakra was not of much help either. “I am aware of the state of Argora pond and will come up with a proper plan soon,” she said vaguely.

Asked to elaborate on what she meant by a “proper plan”, she said she was not in a position to say much as she was “suffering from fever”.

Deputy commissioner Vinay Kumar Choubey was more forthcoming. “Drainage in Arogra has always been a matter of concern. When I was the RMC CEO, I had ordered construction of a drain in the locality. But the project was not completed. A proper solution will soon be worked out after discussions with the present CEO,” he promised.

Argora pond was once associated with various religious functions. There was a time when devotees used to throng its ghats during Chhath and Manda Puja. Though the 50,000-odd residents of Harmu still depend on the water body, its current filthy state has limited their number.

Besides, it is also used for fish production.


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