The capital’s litter finds a resting place beside the 53-acre Ranchi Lake on Thursday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Call it revamp reversed. Ranchi Lake is the capital’s newest dumping destination.
Tonnes of garbage collected from different parts of the city every morning conveniently make their way to the banks of the 169-year-old reservoir that, ironically, finds pride of place in the national list of 62 important lakes since 2003.
While A2Z Infrastructure Limited — the agency hired by Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) to keep the capital clean — vehemently denied its involvement in the stinking mess, an afternoon tour of the lake on Thursday exposed a barefaced lie.
Three workers in vivid green A2Z uniforms were seen wheeling garbage to a spot right beside the lake, almost instantaneously inviting a bunch of ragpickers who scoured some and spilled some as The Telegraph watched.
“We collect plastic, glass and iron scraps from the garbage that AtoZ workers bring here every day. Scrap dealers purchase whatever we salvage from the filth. So, this dumping pockets near the lake are our sources of livelihood,” Md Arif, a ragpicker, said.
Local residents too pointed out that the agency used Ranchi Lake and its surrounding areas as a garbage dump. “Forget an evening walk along the lake. The stench sometimes makes it difficult to live in the area. We urged RMC officials several times to stop using the fallow land beside the lake for dumping garbage, but they paid little heed,” Sharad Kacchap, a resident of Purani Ranchi, said.
Maqsood Alam, who lives in Nizam Nagar beside the lake, echoed Kacchap.
“Makeover plans have been shelved while mounds of garbage is robbing the lake of its beauty. People avoid visiting the area, which also turns into a toilet for ragpickers and shanty dwellers,” he said.
AtoZ zonal manager Manoj Pandey and RMC chief executive officer Vinay Kumar Choubey furnished conflicting statements when apprised of the situation.
While Pandey admitted the problem but said his company was not responsible, Choubey conceded that garbage was being dumped near the lake by A2Z and claimed that the mess would continue for another month.
“We know that garbage is piling up beside the lake, but it is not our doing. Our dumping destination is outside the city, in Jhiri village. Other private agencies appointed by local residents are responsible for the nuisance,” Pandey said.
“Your observations are right. The place near the lake is, at present, being used as a transit point, where garbage arrives from different parts of the city and is later disposed of in a big truck,” Choubey contradicted Pandey.
On how long residents would have to grapple with garbage and foul smell, he added: “Just another month. A2Z will purchase five new dumpers, which will directly carry garbage far away from the city for disposal.”
So hope floats for Ranchi Lake, a heritage reservoir dug up by prisoners in 1842. In colonial times, it had been maintained well and developed into a bird-watchers’ paradise.
At 2,100ft above sea level, the sprawling 53-acre lake not only played a key role in maintaining ground water table, but served various commercial and religious purposes in the past.
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