Nagpur News: The de-siltation and excavation work at Sonegaon lake is down the dumps. A close look at the lake reveals the shoddy work that has been undertaken by NMC in the name of its beautification. Torrents of water is overflowing from all sides of the lake as there is not enough depth to hold the water. The question being raised by social activists is whether the lake has been dug as planned. If yes, then there is no reason for water to dissipate.
Corporator and social activists Tanveer Ahmed says that it is a big scam in the making. “The NMC contractor has not even dug 2 feet of soil/silt and hence the situation.” In fact the tender was for digging 10 feet of earth on the entire patch of the 40-acre lake. It was awarded to R N Gopalani for Rs 3.25 crore.
Arguing further, Ahmed says that the contractor has not left any reference benches for the measurement of the depth of soil being dug. Reference benches are that part of the soil which is left untouched while digging the entire area so that a mean of the depth can be taken. This is of utmost importance while sanctioning or clearing a bill or measuring the work. However, this has not been done leaving scope for speculation and doubt, he added.
To buttress his point, Tanveer pointed out to the amount of earth/soil that has been excavated from the lake. “About 1 lakh trucks of soil would have been excavated if the lake was dug 10-feet deep forming heap of mountains. However, a closer look at places where the soil has been deposited does not reflect the same. Most of the soil has been deposited at Sahakar Nagar ghat while the remaining at London Street and in an adjoining nullah, thus blocking the same, claims Ahmed.
Noted environmentalist and Promoter of Vasundhara, an organization fighting for the restoration of the lake, Gopal Thosar said that the waste ware has been dug very low resulting in water under-flowing from the lake. Such a precious waste of water could have been avoided had the work been done in conformity with the tender document. Moreover, this water could have been of immense use during summer, he opined. Thosar said that the dugged-out soil which is also known as garden mitti is very useful especially in gardens and playgrounds and is mostly unavailable. The NMC could have earned a huge revenue by selling this soil instead of awarding the contract for the same.
Narayan Ahuja, another activist, who also owns a hardware shop, admitted that he sells a truck of garden mitti at Rs 2,500/-. Going by this rate, the value of soil comes to about Rs 25 crore at the site, though the process would have taken a bit long, he says.
Harish Naidu, a member of Sonegaon Talao Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, alleged that the lake is being destroyed because of petty interests of politicians and builders to which the administration is paying no heed as nobody is bothered about maintaining the ecological balance that the lake brings. “Being a Grade I heritage structure, we ought to have done more to preserve it and prevent its environmental degradation,” he said.
The activists are demanding a thorough inquiry in to the charges of corruption that has taken place in the name of beautification of the lake.
When contacted, the contractor R N Gopalani said that the work has been done in accordance with the tender document.
NMC’s Project Engineer was not available for comment
… Rohnikant Matey