Kumar Rajiv Nayan

Ara : Even as only five days are left to Chhath, the most popular festival of Bihar, ghats on the banks of rivers  Ganga and Sone remain unclean in Bhojpur district. The same holds true of ponds in the district. This indicates the indifferent attitude of the Chhath devotees who would have to deal with unclean surroundings with pigs rummaging the garbage heaps scattered along the banks and makeshift huts blocking the approach roads to the ghats. The ghats have become quite unsafe with continuous erosions. To make matters worse this year, the devotees would have to walk at least 2 km to reach the mainstream of the Ganga as the river has changed its course further northwards from its ghats at Sinha and Barhara.

A social activists, Hareram Singh says, “ The district administrict does not seem to be concerned about the unclean ghats.” According to sources, the ghats at Sinha, Barhara, Jagdishpur, Sahar, Sandesh, Koelwar and Ara are in worst condition. On several ghats, sand and soil erosion still continues making it unsafe for the devotees particularly under Barhara block. The Sone canal flowing through Ara is contaminated as the dirty water from sewage drains of the town is flowing into it.

A Chhath devotee of Jawar Tola, Sumitra Devi, said, “If the administration fails to put bamboo strips or pontoon bridge over the canal, the devotees will have to face a lot of inconvenience in reaching the other side of the canal.”

The condition of pond at the Ara Collectorate, where at least 10,000 people perform Chhath every year, remains pathetic as the district administration has not cleaned the pond so far and the filth and garbage is scattered all over. The district administration has encircled the pond adding to the woes of the devotees. The locals are themselves cleaning the area and preparing the ghats for the purpose. The ghats at Sinha and Barhara have also become extremely dangerous due to erosion. The deplorable conditions of the majority of ghats, the marshy land along the banks and polluted water have spoiled the sanctity of the festival.

Mayor, Ara Municipal Corporation (AMC), Priyam Devi, said that cleaning of ghats and removal of filth and garbage were going on. DM, Bhojpur, Sanjeev Kumar claimed elaborate security arrangements have been made for the Chhath and added that dangerous ghats had been identified and special attention would be given to them. NDRF teams, doctors, magistrates, police force would be deployed and use of crackers at the ghat site and ferrying of boats on Chhath day would be completely banned.

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