Reclaiming and restoring a canal
The re-opening of the Shubhadya canal in Keraniganj to navigation is a sign of how corrective measures can be taken in certain crucial areas. The canal, in a state of disuse for the last six years because of the depredations of a section of unscrupulous people, will now once again serve the people in the area. It is to be especially noted that the canal will once again benefit traders who operate in the four markets situated along the banks of the canal. Moreover, the reopening of the canal to boats, steamboats and similar means of transport now means that unfettered access to movement has been restored.
The efforts made by the local administration as well as the joint forces, especially the army, in reclaiming the canal from those who had occupied it for long are surely to be commended. In the six years in which the canal was rendered unusable, illegal occupation of the lake along with unauthorised constructions around it was the norm. It was obviously a case of lake grabbing. And quite clearly such commandeering of the lake could not have occurred without patronisation from powerful quarters. That is the shameful aspect of the story, one that is also to be found in other parts of the country. While the lake went under the sway of the bad elements of society, it also turned into a health hazard with waste of all kinds being dumped near it and into it. As local residents have been quick to point out, it was a huge problem being near what effectively had become a dead, putrid lake. But all that is now in the past and citizens are now free to make use of the lake and at the same time look forward to a pollution-free atmosphere in the area. Care must, however, be taken that the elements which had the lake in their grip for long do not come back to create problems again. And that can be done through tackling them for their misdeeds under the law of the land.
The reclamation of the Shubhadya canal can serve as a model for the recovery of similar water bodies elsewhere in the country. We are aware of plans for the restoration of eleven derelict canals. Those plans can now be implemented by drawing on the experience of those who have given the Shubhadya canal back to the people.