The corporation has recently engaged 20 people to clean ponds in all the wards. So far 35 ponds in 28 wards and 4 in the newly added area, which was under Bally Municipality earlier, have already been cleaned. Interestingly most of the ponds are of around 3 to 4 bighas. The move to clean the ponds was taken after the corporation found that a major portion of most of the water bodies was getting filled with garbage and were covered with hyacinths due to lack of maintenance. Thus the corporation took the initiative to clean the ponds. With people throwing garbage in the pond it causes various types of diseases and the water becomes an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Garbage piled up by the side of ponds and a portion of the water-bodies gradually getting filled up with the same garbage was a common sight for years in almost every place in Howrah. But the initiative is helping to restore the ponds to its original form. The HMC is cleaning the ponds without charging anything from its owners. “Our endeavour is to make the surroundings clean so that the ecological balance is maintained. The owners should not think that their ponds will be taken away if the corporation cleans it. Instead we are encouraging people to state pisciculture in the cleaned ponds so that the ponds remain well maintained. I had a discussion with the Mayor on waiving property tax to those who will start pisciculture in the ponds. The corporation has principally agreed to the proposal,” said Arun Roychowdhury, Member, Mayor-in-council (water resource). He further said that besides waiving property tax the corporation will also help the interested people by making arrangements for their training in pisciculture with the help of the state fisheries department. “Many pond owners have already approached us and have shown interest in starting pisciculture in the cleaned ponds. Once the business starts, quite a few numbers of people will be engaged for the job giving a boost to the economy,” said Roychowdhury adding that cultivation of colourful fishes in smaller ponds is also possible. If everything goes as planned the corporation may also take up the project to beautify the ponds.
Several local people have also shown interest and taken up the responsibility of keeping the area clean from now onward. But there are some areas where the corporation had to engage workers twice as a section of local people had dumped garbage after the cleaning was complete. One of the ponds, which were cleaned, is situated at Japani Gate Seikhpara in Ward number 50 of HMC. Sarat Banerjee, an elderly person residing in the area, said this is the first time when he has seen the corporation cleaning the pond. “I am overwhelmed to see that such an initiative has been taken,” Banerjee said. It may be mentioned that the Chief Minister had sanctioned Rs 1.8 crore for cleaning and beatification of three large size ponds in Howrah in this fiscal. The work of the same has also started.