Reported by Lingaraj Sahu
Bhubaneswar, Apr 14:
Only a year after Odisha Construction Corporation Ltd (OCCL) cleared up the duckweed infestation from the famous Bindu Sagar Lake near Lord Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar, the lake is grappling with the same problem all over again.
With only a few more days to go for Lord Lingaraj’s Chandan Yatra, where the Lord gets to the lake for ‘Chapa Khela’ (a boating tour on the lake), the lake is in a pathetic condition. The yatra will begin on ‘Akshay Tritiya’ of Hindu calendar and continue for 22 days.
Experts predict problems in boating due to the high-density weeds present in the water. It is not only the duckweeds, but also the black and stinking water that makes the lake and its surrounding unhygienic.
“The Chief Minister’s dream project of beautifying Bindu Sagar has failed. The water has turned black and stinks. Given the presence of weeds, I assume we might have to pull the boat like a chariot,” criticized Gyanendra Patnaik, a local.
Not only does the Lord use this water for His daily rituals, scores of people who come here to offer Shraddha (Hindu ritual performed for one’s deceased ancestors, especially parents) and take a dip in the lake as the waters of this lake are considered holy.
It may be noted that the Urban Development department of the state government had attempted to clear the lake of duckweed infestation using weed killers and carried out dredging towards this end in 2013. While the Drainage Division was supposed to carry out the task, it was handed over to OCCL which finished the task in 2014 at a cost of Rs 1.76 crores. However, thing are back to square one only within a year.
“Crores are being spent to upkeep the lake. However, the issue keep coming up due to lack of proper maintenance. The funds have become source of income for some,” commented Nirmal Panda, a servitor of the Lord.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) under which jurisdiction, the 1,300 ft-long and 700 ft wide lake comes, wants to steer clear of any trouble.
“BMC had contracted the Drainage Division to do the job. Drainage Division has got the job done by OCCL as per contract,” was the blunt answer from Brundaban Bastia, Chief Engineer of the Drainage Division.
As if the pathetic condition of the lake was not enough, the Jagati (a seat in the lake where the Lord goes to remain immersed in sandalwood water) has also developed cracks. Last year, a servitor got a hand broken as he got trapped there. The walls of Jagati are so weak that they might crash anytime.
The administration now plans to spend some more money and get another round of weed clearance and repair done.
“We have done the necessary measurements and plan to repair the Jagati and clear the duckweed infestation from the lake before Chandan Yatra,” said Jagannath Patnaik, Junior Engineer of BMC.
BMC Mayor also echoed the same rhetoric of another round of weed clearance.
“Earlier, we had cleared the lake from duckweed infestation. Now, we are going to spend Rs three Lakhs to repair the Jagati and clear the lake from weeds before the Chandan yatra,” said BMC Mayor Anant Narayan Jena.