Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 5:
Bhubaneswar City Forest Division will start a large-scale forestation programme in Bhubaneswar starting the first week of July that will witness plantation of a million saplings in Odisha’s capital city.
While the Forest Division will plant 300,000 saplings on its own, it will distribute 700,000 more to volunteers, NGOs, students and other interested denizens in the city.
Forest department officials have selected 112 varieties of wild plants such as Neem, Karanj, Kusum etc that will be planted by the roadside, around schools, colleges and other organisations.
Officials of Patrapada’s ‘Medicinal Plant Resource Canter’ and Ghatikia’s ‘Central Nursery’ have been tasked with preparing these saplings on time.
The green belt is intended at preserving the environment and taming pollution in the city that has seen rapid deforestation in the last few years owing to road expansion, urbanization and large scale construction activities.
As per a recent study by Odisha State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB), pollution has become a major challenge for cities like Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda and Talcher. These have been termed as ‘hotspots’. Among rivers, OSPCB ranks Brahmani river as most polluted followed by Mahanadi.
While untreated drain water coupled with vehicle exhaust smoke are prime contributors to polluting air and water in the state capital, large scale industrialization without proper environment regulation are doing it to Talcher and Jharsuguda. Broken ash ponds have wreaked havoc many a time in these cities by contaminating ground water, but a permanent fix is yet out of sight.
“While industrialization is on a rise, the companies are not building treatment plants accordingly. We have issued show cause notice to many such plants. As a remedy, we are considering preserving the fly ash and using it in a more meaningful way,” said Regional officer of Pollution Control Board Hadibandhu Panigrahy.
In Bhubaneswar, as per information provided by Panigrahy, an average family discharges about 140 liters of waste water to the sewer. At this rate, 17 million liters of waste water is discharged from the city. The waste water discharged by commercial entities adds to the problem. This polluted water works like incubators for bacteria and contaminates the underground water.
Even though Odisha Water Supply & Sewerage Board (OWSSB) had planned to build six water treatment plants in Bhubaneswar to avoid any waterborne disaster and approval has already been given to build four of them, construction work is yet to begin on any of these plants.
OSPCB is also emphasizing on processing the city waste in an eco-friendly manner to limit impact on the environment. “We are trying to use the city waste dumped by BMC to generate electricity,” said Panigrahy.