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Dammed and dirty for another year - Centre's Rs 47cr largesse for lake conservation & beautification goes abegging

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By A.S.R.P. MUKESH
  • Published 18.06.11
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Ranchi, June 17: No paper, no work. Eight dams, the drinking water source to most of urban Jharkhand, will have to sit for a year at least before they can be de-silted and beautified, as the state urban development department has failed to hire consultants to prepare project reports.

For 2011-12, the Centre, through its national lake conservation scheme had given the state Rs 47 crore for the revamp of its eight dams — Ranchi’s Kanke, Hatia and Rukka, Dhanbad’s Topchachi, Jamshedpur’s Sitarampur, Hazaribagh’s Charwa, Chatra’s Heru and Giridih’s Khandoli.

The state urban development department got the charge to implement their clean up and beautification.

In late March, the department floated tenders, which were opened on April 18. But there were no takers for the job except one, whose application was cancelled because at least two bidders are needed to compare merits. “We got only one bidder. Naturally we had to cancel him,” admitted Gajanand Ram, town planner, urban development department.

A fresh tender was floated on June 13, which will close on June 21. The hand of state government moves in mysterious ways, as the tender’s timing coincides with monsoon, which means that even if bidders are interested in surveying the dams and making a proposal, work stands stalled thanks to rain.

“We don’t think any de-siltation activity will happen in the near future. If rainfall is good, it is not possible this year. Technically, you have to wait for next summer,” Ram said.

The truth is that the department was “unsure” about the fate of the second tender.

Even though a start has yet to be made, officials said that scooping out silt was one aspect of the entire project. “We are aiming to conserve, clean and restore dams as due to drought, pollution, encroachments, they shrink over the years,” Ram said.

The project will now begin next year, when the entire process of roping in consultants will start. “It all depends on finding the right consultant. Preparing a project plan may take between six and eight months, after which the plan needs approval from the Centre. It’ll take time,” said Ram.

Also, Ram does not know who funded the much-hyped Charwa dam clean up. “The funds were not released by us,” he said flatly.

Meanwhile, state drinking water and sanitation department started scooping out silt at Kanke dam, a Rs 82 lakh corporate social responsibility initiative funded by Central Coalfields Limited.

Umesh Mehta, superintending engineer of drinking water and sanitation department said work at Kanke dam would be over in the next 15 days.

“More than silt, algae deposit is Kanke dam’s Achilles’ Heel. When temperature rises, algae decompose and pollute water. We discontinued supply from this dam when people complained that the water stank,” said Mehta.

“The dam has seven lakh cubic metre deposits of algae, of which we are targeting to clean 50,000 cubic metres. Till now, 35,000 cubic metres of deposit have been cleaned,” he said.