Thursday, May 13, 2010

Apathy killing lotus pond in Cubbon Park, says Saldanha

Apathy killing lotus pond in Cubbon Park, says Saldanha

He claims horticulture dept is showing no interest in maintaining, preserving it

Anusha Ravi. Bangalore

Retired judge of Karnataka high court justice Michael F Saldanha staged a protest near the lotus pond at Cubbon Park on Wednesday against the authorities' "apathy" in maintaining the water body.
The pond was nearing its end as the water level was dropping, Saldanha said. Polluted water was being released into the pond and the fish in it were dying.
"The pond is drying up," Saldanha said. "The water level has come down by 85%. It is also getting increasingly polluted due to the inflow of dirty water," he said. "But the horticultural department, which is in charge of the pond, is showing no interest in maintaining and preserving it. The department is ruining the pond."
The retired judge said the government had sanctioned Rs2 crore for restoration of the pond. "But the restoration can be done without spending public money," he said. "I and other volunteers are willing to restore the pond and it will not require public money, but the officials are bent upon stopping us from doing so," he said.
He said he and his associates had been taking care of the pond since 2003, when he had "adopted" it. "We have been de-polluting the pond every week," he claimed. But, recently, officials of the horticulture department had manhandled him when he and his team had tried to take steps to restore the pond, he alleged. "I had brought experts from various fields to inspect the pond and give suggestions to restore it. But the director, deputy director and assistant director of the department brought security people to throw us out. We were even assaulted physically."
The government wanted to take care of the pond but corrupt officials were derailing its efforts for their own benefit, he alleged. "Officials indulge in all kinds of malpractices — selling bamboo grown in the park, cutting trees, allowing prostitution at night and drug peddling," he claimed. He said his protest was to urge the government to take away the responsibility of the park's maintenance from the horticulture department. The job should be given to citizens, he said.
"The pond is in this state due to overpopulation of fish," horticulture department director N Jayaram said. "Many fish had died a few weeks ago when rainwater had mixed with polluted water and had flowed into the pond," he said. "The claims that the pond is in this state due to our negligence is untrue."
He claimed the department had started the process of desilting the pond to purify it.

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