The Malda Division of Eastern Railways has launched a drive to create new water bodies on vacant railway land. The Asansol Division of Eastern Railway has taken up this unique initiative for the first time in the country by setting up vast stretches of water bodies for rain water harvesting and subsequent pisciculture for generation of further local employment, which has already been highly appreciated and tweeted about by railway minister Piyush Goyal.

Talking to The Statesman, Mr. Prashant Kumar Mishra, chief workshop engineer of Eastern Railways, who is also holding the additional charge of divisional railway manager (DRM) of Malda Division informed that old embankments are being strengthened, slope, erosion, subsidence of embarkments are being attended to. “Pits are constructed on vacant railway land, keeping adequate gaps for the safety of embankments. These pits have become natural water bodies all over the section between Bhagalpur and Mandarhill. This not only serves to conserve water but keeps a check over encroachment on railway land,”

Mr. Prashant Kumar Mishra added. Low lying land is converted into water bodies for rain water harvesting and fishing rights are sold for an sustainable environmental initiative. Water harvesting has now been integrated with the strengthening of old embankments and construction of new embankments, wherein construction of new rail lines will also incorporate measures for water conservation.

“It is an unique initiative undertaken by the Mlada Division , and the division has also started giving fishing rights in all these water bodies which will not only provide financial viable model of water conservation but will also provide large scale employment to local people in construction of ponds and pisciculture,” the DRM of Malda added. Mr. Prashant Kumar Mishra said that as part of the three pronged strategy to save the ecosystem, generate local employment and save both sides of the railway tracks, already 50 such water bodies have been created and 50 more have been planned in this fiscal in Malda Division and a budget of Rs.80 lakhs has been allocated.

Not only the vast stretches of these water bodies will be filled up during the monsoon season but at the same time it will also help in ground water recharging, railway sources said. It should be mentioned that the Asansol Division of Eastern Railway is also planning to create 100 such water bodies in this fiscal year.