Prime minister Narendra Modi's pet campaign "Swachh Bharat" has failed to move the Bharatiya Janata Party state leadership and the local authorities into action to maintain a historical spot in the constituency of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
Karan Taal is the only green belt in the old locality of Karnal. In the run-up to the recent elections, Khattar promised its restoration and development as a tourism site associated with Karna, philanthropist character in the Mahabharata.
On Haryana Day (November 1), Khattar launched a cleanliness campaign in Faridabad and the state BJP leadership and local administration began a similar drive in Karnal. It proved to be only a photo-op. At Karan Taal, once a major picnic spot, wild growth speaks volumes of the difference "Swachh Bharat" has failed to make.
Its rusted swings, slides and climbers continue to be dumped in a corner of the park and local people rue that no one is taking interest in maintaining the place.
"Once it was the city's landmark, with musical fountains and a lake," said local resident Gopal Das. "Years of neglect took away its glory. A site once popular with residents now has become the hangout of anti-social elements and stray animals," he added.
A bank official living in Sector 14 here suggested that the BJP leaders could have set an example by tidying up the park.
"Instead, they have done only lip service to the campaign," he said. Sources in the district administration said Karnal Municipal Corporation (MC) wanted the central tourism department to help revive the place.
In its first general-house meeting in September last year, the corporation had passed a resolution to revive Karan Taal on priority, saying further delay could render the earlier Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) investment on renovation a waste.
Huda had spent `35 lakh after the Divisional Development Review Session (DDRS) on September 20, 2010, and decided that the central government be involved in restoration, and later, the MC could maintain it.
Former Haryana governor AR Kidawi, who was also chairman of Kurukshetra Development Board (KDB), had sanctioned `41 lakh for the maintenance of Karan Taal.
Later, the-then deputy commissioner, Neelam P Kasni, had directed Huda to do landscaping.
There was a plan to install a life-size idol of Karna in the middle of the park, and assemble new swings and fountains.
Popular belief associates the site with the battle of Mahabharata and legend has it that warrior Karna, who fought on the side of the Kauravas against his half-brothers, had stationed his army at the very spot.
It is believed that in the olden times, there was a natural water body at the site, surrounded by temples and philanthropist Karna offered prayers after morning bath at the steps of the erstwhile sarovar (sacred tank).
A pillar raised by erstwhile Bansi Lal government at the entrance of Karan Taal states that it is the place where Karna used to donate 125 kg gold every morning. Sanjay Gandhi, son of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had inaugurated the new park project that had converted a mythical pond into a picnic spot.
Old-timers recall that the majestic backdrop of the lake used to attract tourists.