POOR DRAINAGE POLLUTES MISIRGONDA
The century-old Misirgonda pond in Kanke, Ranchi, is deeply revered by tribals who want the government to alter drainage lines for its conservation and (above) residents on Thursday show the many petitions they have filed since 2002. Pictures by Hardeep Singh
The RMC may have launched a drive to revive lakes and ponds in Ranchi, but a century-old, revered water body barely a kilometre from the chief minister's official residence remains largely neglected in these dire times.
The Misirgonda natural pond, sprawling over five acres, solely depends on local residents - mostly tribals - for its conservation. A stone's throw from the Kanke reservoir, it still has enough water for the 13,000-odd people who live in a dozen settlements around it, but pollution remains a major concern because of flawed drainage.
"Unlike the rest of Ranchi, we don't face acute water crisis because of the pond. But, if the RMC continues to ignore cleanliness, Misirgonda pond too will shrink into a puddle one day," said Raj Tirkey, a student fighting for conservation under the aegis of Misirgonda Jan Kalyan Samiti.
According to residents, they have carried out signature campaigns since 2002, met ministers and petitioned the government at least thrice during public hearings, all in vain. They want alternative drainage lines from Kanke to prevent pollution, regular removal of slush, a concrete road and plantation around the pond.
"Hatma pond is barely half a kilometre from Misirgonda and the RMC has sanctioned funds to remove soil and rejuvenate that water body. Not a penny has been spared for our pond. Why? We had urged urban development minister C.P. Singh to visit the pond, but he refused saying that he represented Ranchi Assembly seat and Misirgonda falls under Kanke seat," said Kameshwar Ravidas, a former athlete and sports supervisor of CMPDI.
Since the pond borders RMC wards two and three, local councillors are just happy to pass the buck as well.
Residents allege that land mafia are already eyeing the pond. "They use their clout to stop the government from constructing a road and cleaning the pond. They have fanned an idea that this water body is personal property, which it is not," said resident Santosh Kumar Gupta.
Records prepared by Ranchi Regional Development Authority in 2006 maintains that Misirgonda pond is situated on government land. Years ago, Congress leader Yogendranath Tiwari had managed to bribe revenue officials and transfer an acre of the pond in his name. However, local residents fought legal battles and in 2010, forced the government to institute an inquiry, which concluded that the settlement was illegal and scrapped it.
There are around 12 small and large tribal settlements around the pond like Misirgonda, Hatma, Piparkoncha, Dahutoli and Saraitand. What offends residents the most is that the government and the RMC continue to ignore their requests despite knowing that the pond is of religious and cultural importance.
"Every year, tribals perform week-long Manda Puja here. For everyone, it is mandatory to take a bath in the pond and fetch water to observe rituals. We tribals are nature lovers and this pond is part of our ancestral tradition," contended another resident.
Ranchi mayor Asha Lakra said the RMC had undertaken beautification work of all the 39 ponds in the municipal area. "We have started work. In the first phase, 10 ponds were selected, of which work in eight has almost been completed. I am not aware of the Misirgonda demand. I need to check if that pond was included in the proposal that was approved last year," she added.
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