People power saves Raja Talab - Dhanbad officials in Jharia to oversee clean-up, boost Rs 3cr revamp plan

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By PRADUMAN CHOUBEY
  • Published 9.10.14
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People’s protest led the top brass of the Dhanbad district administration to descend on Jharia at 9am on Wednesday and launch a massive clean-up operation of the historic Raja Talab with over 50 labourers digging into the clogged pond and recovering debris that included loads of garbage, bamboo frames of idols and remains of puja paraphernalia like betel leaf, flowers and garlands.

To calm frayed tempers, senior officials present, including chief executive officer of Dhanbad Municipal Corporation (DMC) Ashok Kumar Banka, also made a placatory announcement: next year’s planned overhaul of the historic pond established on the estate of erstwhile king of Jharia Durga Prasad Singh in the early 20th century would now be taken up on a war footing in November this year, immediately after the October 29-30 Chhath puja.

Wednesday’s efforts included clearing layers of moss that had accumulated on the edges of the pond spread over 8.46 acres near the old fort of the estate near Koiri Bandh locality under ward 37.

Around a dozen police constables accompanying their bosses also joined in the work that went on for over an hour.

Anup Sao, councillor of ward 37, who led the residents’ protest that forced the corporation to act, lauded the beginning of the cleanliness drive, but added that the authorities should ensure there was no further delay in executing the renovation plan in November.

Residents of Jharia, under Sao’s leadership, had taken out a symbolic funeral procession of the state urban development department, district administration and the Dhanbad corporation on Monday and followed it up with a meeting the next day where they decided to collect “alms” on behalf of the administration to generate funds for a thorough clean-up of the pond.

Banka explained the details of the Rs 3 crore renovation plan that was originally scheduled to be launched in February-March next year, but will now be executed in November.

De-watering and de-silting of the pond would be done immediately after Chhath puja by creating multiple channels in the pond. “After draining the pond of all the water, we will embark on de-silting. We will dig into the bed of the pond, at least by 5 feet, and remove the earth,” he said, adding the entire process should be over by December.

The district administration would simultaneously work towards removing encroachments from around the pond. “This is crucial as without the removal of encroachments, the de-silting work will be meaningless as people living nearby will continue to dump garbage into the water body,” Banka said of the 100 houses and shops that have come up illegally on the southern, eastern and western banks of the pond.

Corporation sources, however, indicated that second phase of the renovation plan, which includes barbed wire fencing around the periphery, repair of staircases on the banks, construction of roads around the pond, besides installation of a filtration plan, would be carried out only in March next year.

“Ranchi-based consultant Messers Tandon Enterprises have been asked to prepare the second phase of the renovation plan.

The company has been told to complete the DPR after conducting field inspections before December,” a corporation official said.

Among those present to supervise Wednesday’s clean-up were Dhanbad deputy commissioner Prashant Kumar, SP Hemant Toppo, DSP Amit Kumar, corporation executive engineer Indresh Shukla, and MD of Mada Ravindra Singh.