From recreation destination to haven of anti-socials

When the Ramsagar tank was renovated and developed into a boating club by the Sambalpur Municipality in July 2003, it was appreciated by one and all.

Developed from the MPLAD fund of the then Rajya Sabha member Sanatan Bisi at the initiative of then Collector Santosh Sarangi, the boating club emerged a major recreation destination within the town limits.

Having 15 paddle boats, the entry fee to the club was Rs 2 and a boat ride came for Rs 5 per head. Things went on smoothly for about five years.

But continuous apathy of the Municipality eventually took its toll on the club and what remains today is a stinking water tank filled with leaves of lotus flower and boats dumped both inside and outside the water.

It has become a safe haven for anti-social elements in absence of lighting and the embankment is used for open defecation. The Rs 25 lakh spent for development of the boating has flowed down the drain.

Although attempt was made by the last Chairperson of the Municipality Reena Trivedi to revive it and repair work of boundary wall and lighting was initiated, it had to be stopped after fellow councillors cried foul over the tender.

As the situation stands today, garbage is dumped all along the boundary of the tank spread over about 10 acres and more than anything else, cleaning the tank and the water has become important, at least to save the oldest traditional water harvesting structure of the town.

Chairperson of Sambalpur Municipality Kalpana Sahu said a fresh allotment of Rs 25 lakh has been received by the Municipality for development of a new boating club. Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development has been requested to accord sanction to spend the amount in the Ramsagar boating club to revive it.

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