Weeds removed from Bada Talab, aka Ranchi Lake, dumped in front of its main entrance in the capital on Friday morning. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Teej, a festival that’s celebrated by married Hindu women for the long life of their husbands, has ripped the veil off the stinking reality of the capital’s water bodies that are choking on weed and waste.
Scores of devotees, who had queued up at ponds and lakes across Ranchi on Thursday to observe Shiv-Parvati puja, a final ritual after which the women break their fast, were shocked to find the water bodies in a deplorable state with filth, weed and muck littered all around. Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) had clearly taken no initiative to spruce up the tanks and talabs ahead of the festivities, leaving the women in the lurch.
The filthy sight repelled most women, forcing them to either cut short their puja or run to nearby temples to complete the ritual.
Pinki Sahay (28), a homemaker and resident of Daily Market locality in Ranchi, was one of those who returned home with a bitter experience from Bada Talab.
“I rushed to Bada Talab around 4.45am to complete Teej rituals only to find the entrance gate leading to the steps into the water blocked with muck and weeds. I am amazed at the civic body’s lack of concern for Teej devotees. It did a good job by clearing the water weeds, but how could it stack the litter at the entrance just like that? We were forced to cut short our Shiva-Parvati visarjan,” Sahay rued.
Another devotee, Kavita Sahay (30), called up her family members, who came and created some space around the mounds of weed so that she could climb down the steps to the water.
Beena Devi, another devotee, added: “There are so many festivals that are observed near water bodies. Take for instance, Makar Shankranti when people take a dip in water to pray. Very soon, men will be performing tarpan during Pitra Paksha before Navaratri. But we don’t have clean ponds and water tanks, where these rituals can be performed.”
Bada Talab was not alone.
The surroundings of Shalimar Talab near Machhli Ghar, Karamtoli Talab along Bariatu Road and most other ponds were equally unclean.
Nibha Sharma, a resident of Harihar Singh Road in Morabadi, said: “I had gone to Tetertoli talab, which is behind Bariatu thana. It was so dirty that I had to return without completing the ritual and instead headed to a temple to complete the puja.”
RMC officials admitted that they committed a blunder by not cleaning the water bodies clean ahead of Teej.
“I am extremely sorry that we did not take notice of this festival. Had I received a single call from anyone, even a single ward councillor, reminding me to clean the ponds, I would have released a special order for it. I have no words to express how sorry I am,” CEO Manoj Kumar said.
Admitting that RMC did not maintain a festival calendar to conduct cleanliness drives, he said, “But now that it has come to my notice, I will immediately order the health officer to make a schedule for cleaning the surroundings of water bodies for Pitra Paksha and Makar Shankranti.”