The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lakes still languishes

Beautification of Rabindra Sarobar has been in progress for almost three years, but the city's only national lake, spread over 192 acres, remains as dirty as it was before.

The problem of water pollution has been solved to a large extent following the shift of Gobindapur Rail Colony, but there has been hardly any improvement in the lighting and parking systems and in the condition of the banks of the Dhakuria Lakes.

'It's unfortunate that we have not been able to meet the deadline of the project. We lack the infrastructure required for the beautification,' said D. Biswas, chief engineer of Calcutta Improvement Trust (CIT), the implementing agency of the project, a joint venture between the Centre and the state government.

He also blamed a funds crunch for the tardy progress of work. In fact, the state government's share in the Rs 10.13-crore project reached the CIT only in March.

Of the Centre's share of Rs 6.96 crore, around Rs 3 crore was released at the start of the project. According to the plan, Rs 2.83 crore from the Centre's share is to be spent on the maintenance of water.

The expenditure details of the project reveal that Rs 1.21 crore has been spent on revamping the banks, Rs 51.21 lakh on drainage and sewerage, Rs 5.35 lakh on pathways, Rs 9.30 lakh on fencing, Rs 81,000 on the gates and Rs 30.87 lakh on the beautification of the premises.

Asked about the delay in the execution of the project, municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya said: 'Water pollution, once the bane of the Lakes, has been minimised, thanks to the shift of Gobindapur Rail Colony. So now, we need to recast our whole plan.'

Local Trinamul Congress councillor Ratan Dey alleged: 'The CIT was a wrong choice. It has neither the required infrastructure nor an effective budget management system. The project should have been handled by some other agency.'

Local Trinamul MLA Sougata Roy said: 'Hardly any effort has been made to maintain a lake of this stature. It is time the authorities gave a serious thought to the matter and chalked out a proper budget management plan.'

Environment activist Subhas Datta feels that not just infrastructure, the CIT also lacks the mindset for the upkeep of the Lakes. 'A string of clubs surrounding the waterbody has been misusing the space, but the authorities do not seem to be bothered,' he added.

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