Dry Falgu river in Gaya raises a stink, but fails to create poll buzz

The legendry Falgu river, now stinking with drain waters and night soils, has failed to catch the attention of political parties this Lok Sabha elections, leaving the denizens, particularly the Gayawal Panda Samaj, high and dry.

Pilgrims arriving here to perform ‘pind daan’, or rituals for salvation of their ancestors’ souls, have no option but to either use the drain waters flowing across the river or to cough up special premium to get holy waters of Falgu.

The river, which remains dry throughout the year except for a few days during the rainy season, is a lifeline for the Gaya and parts of Jehanabad district as most of the water pumping stations are installed along the banks of the river to extract the underbed water from Falgu.

Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, who is in the fray for the Gaya Lok Sabha seat, seems to have forgotten his dream projects for Gaya which he had conceived way back in 2014. Manjhi, during his stint as the chief minister, had worked out an ambitious plan to ensure flow of water in the Falgu for at least six months. The project had proposed a check dam at Kandi Nawada, the last stretch of the river towards Jehanabad, apart from a parallel drainage system to turn the city’s drain waters to the water treatment plant.

However, when Manjhi was removed from the office of the chief minister, the project files started gathering dust in the secretariat. “I had dreamed of mega project for the revival of Falgu River and also allocated adequate funds. The DPR was also finalisesd after a massive survey for the viability of the project. But after my exit, the project took a back seat,’’ Manjhi said, while stressing the need to rejuvenate the river for the next generation when the water would be a rare commodity.

“Falgu has never been an issue in either Assembly or Lok Sabha elections and nor will it be in future ever. Because none of the candidates can afford the wrath of more than 2,500 families who have encroached the river sides and built their houses. I have already filed a PIL in the Patna High Court against the encroachment of the river land and the court had issued several reminders to the Bihar government and the Gaya Municipal Corporation. The district administration, after the directive of the court, had also initiated a demolition drive and dismantled more than 500 houses constructed on the encroached river side’’, said Braj Nandan Pathak, an RTI activist spearheading the campaign for revival of the river.

Pathak pointed out that the drain waters, flowing into the river, is now being used by the pilgrims for their rituals here.

Gaya Municipal Corporation Mayor Ganesh Prasad, however, claimed the Bihar government had chalked out a plan to set up a water treatment plant at Kandi Nawada where the waters of the city drains would be treated before being released in the river.

The GMC, with the government funds, has already started the treatment plant work and after execution of the project the river will have adequate water for at least four months.

JDU nominee for the Gaya seat, Vijay Manjhi, has no idea about the condition of the river. He, however, said the river was very important for Gaya and steps must be taken to ensure water flow in the river.

“Lakhs of pilgrims arrive here every year only to touch the river water and take a holy dip,” Vijay Manjhi said, adding that he would take up the issue with the state government only after the elections.

First Published:
Mar 31, 2019 12:51 IST

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