[First appeared on Sunday, October 30, 2005]
Q: Who are those generous souls who give you more than they receive?
A: The Kolkata canals.
Their bellies are full and they have no place to consume any more. No wonder, the earliest sign of deluge send shivers down the spine of canal-side residents. And who do you think should apportion the blame? Anyone but the Government, if you hear some of their saying.
Kolkata is blessed with about 12 interconnected canals. Good thing about them is they remain filled with water all year long. Enter Government apathy. Armed with enviable lack of foresight, it allowed settlers on the banks. And since the gaze stopped at their hutments, it became easier to altogether forget what lay beyond.
Filth and dirt, meanwhile, filled in year after year, even while hutments inched further into water-body. The canals turned into eyesores, and people thought why they were there in the first place. Such was the anathema that one felt cursed to even look at them.
The day of reckoning came soon. Parts of Kolkata would remain flooded for several days after heavy rains. The canals wouldn’t take in anymore.
Decades later, luck is now smiling on us. Plans are afoot to clean the canals and restore original glory. But, it’s easier said than done. For, though money is now there, efforts clash. Let’s see how long this takes. Or will this be another wait for eternity..!