Chhattisgarh: National level swimmers hold jal satyagraha, demand clean up of lake

RAIPUR: At least fifty state-level and national level swimmers including children and teens are staging protest via ‘Jal Satyagraha’ demanding to clean the polluted lake that they depend upon for practising swimming in Purai village of Durg district. Purai is famous as ‘Khelgaon’ of Chhattisgarh for producing large number of state and national level players in different fields while its lake is the only medium of practice for over 80 swimmers including girls and specially-abled.
But with animal wastes and litter draining into lake, many children couldn’t practise due to skin infection and failed to perform in contests. Their requests to clean lake fell into deaf ears.
Several other villagers from neighbouring places also joined in the protest as many other swimmers from the vicinity also practise at Purai lake. After few hours the children were asked to stand on the corner of lake as they sustained insect bites due to standing in lake water.
Talking to TOI, Om Kumar Ojha, the swimming coach said, “Purai village has been known for making athletes, swimmers, football, water polo, khokho etc. The swimmers had been depending upon Purai lake for practising and have no other facility but for the past three years, the lake has been continuously being polluted as there are two severages connected to it and the cattle’s waste also flow in the water. This leads to several skin infections, diarrhoea and itching problem among passionate swimmers who are forced to practice in the dirty lake in order to perform.”
Most of the swimmers between the age of 6-23 years old are either state or national payers and gold medallists. Many of the specially abled children have also won gold medals while their future is at stake as most of them couldn’t continue practise in polluted lake.
“In the recent contests all the toppers have stood second in while few of them have withdrawn their names from national competition in lack of confidence. We have requested administration several times, but it fell on deaf ears. Despite that two of them have been selected in national competition to be held in Udaipur on November 4 in the specially abled category,” Ojha said.

When contacted sports department secretary Sonmoni Borah told TOI, “Since it has come to my notice, if any local body of Durg collector sends me proposal for arranging a sports infrastructure for sportsperson, I will immediately consider it. However, taking cognizance of the issue, I would write to collector to submit a report regarding the matter and take necessary action.”
A national level NGO Jansunwai Foundation had raised voice few months ago and campaigned about it on social media.
“We also approached collector and Zila panchayat CEO, though they promised of ensuring to get lake cleaned, but nothing happened. Moreover, these swimmers need special attention from government as they are from poor background but with great calibre. Their nutrition isn’t proper and most of them look malnourished,” Sanjay Mishra of Jansunwai Foundaiton said.