Odisha Sun Times Bureua
Bhubaneswar, Aug 27:
Even as Bhubaneswar, Odisha’s capital city, found a place in the first lot of 98 cities in the country to get the coveted Smart City tag, the city has at least 250 km open drains that are waiting to devour the next victim, the latest being a 9-year-old boy from Nayapalli area who fell to death after an hour-long shower on Tuesday evening.
Though not every fall results in death as it happened on Tuesday, there is no denying the fact that a fall into an open drain can cause serious injuries.
Strangely, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has no concrete figures of the total drainage line under its jurisdiction. When contacted, the BMC Mayor Anant Narayan Jena said: “There are around 350 km drainage line in the city of which 250 km stretch is uncovered.”
However, the ground reality, according to those in the know of things, is in contrast to what the top BMC mandarin claimed. The drainage line extends upto 450 km in the BMC area and at the most 200 km drainage line has been covered with concrete slabs, they say.
Despite a High Court directive that open drainage lines must be covered with slabs, over half of the stretch (almost 250km) is lying uncovered.
It is the corporators, who give proposals to BMC for construction of drains in their respective wards. But to everyone’s surprise, the corporators are still giving proposals to construct drains without covers. Even more surprisingly, such proposals, which are in clear violation of the High Court directive, are being approved by the civic authorities!
Besides, the corporators who are submitting proposals with proper covering of the drains are allegedly flouting the norms by leaving the drains uncovered posing a potential threat to the residents.
The uncovered drains have proved fatal for denizens on many occasions. In 2008, two children fell into the open drain at Chintamaniswar area. While one child lost his life after falling into the open drain, the other was lucky to be rescued by locals. Following the incident, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik laid the foundation stone for construction of a drainage system in the area at a cost of Rs 15 crore. However, the drainage construction is yet to take off in the area even eight years after its approval.
Again in 2013, a school student met with a similar mishap at GGP Colony in the city and died.
Chief Minister, Urban Development Minister, BMC Commissioner, bureaucrats and top engineers reside in the capital city. However, the civic issues still are grim despite the government trumpeting its achievements.