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‘Vanishing water bodies a cause for climate change in Odisha capital’


Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 14:

Disappearance of natural water bodies has led to climatic changes in Odisha’s capital city which has become hotter than even Jaipur or Delhi.

SOABhubaneswar is still much greener than many cities in spite of the impact of the Super Cyclone in 1999 and the Cyclone Phailin in 2013 and it does not have more concrete structures or vehicles compared to other bigger urban conglomerates. But the temperature here shoots up unbearably during the summer, experts pointed out at a workshop held at the SOA University on Saturday.

“Though the city boasted of several water bodies in the past, some of them have been reclaimed and others had shrunk causing the change in climate. This can lead to erratic rainfall and even cloudbursts,” Dr Ajit Kumar Pattnaik, Project Director of Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project (ICZMP) and chief executive of Chilka Development Authority (CDA), said.

He was delivering a talk on “Urban Growth and Water Bodies: A Development Conflict”,  jointly organized by the Institute of Technical Education and Research (ITER) and Foundation for Environmental and Social Research (FESR) in collaboration with the Post Graduate Department of Geography of Utkal University and ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.

Pattnaik said a 15-hectare water body close to the Biju Patnaik International Airport, which was charged by a stream, had shrunk by six hectare over the years while the water had been contaminated by sewage inflow. “The urgent need is to respect and restore the natural streams and no short term measures would suffice,” he said.

Prof Gopal Krushna Panda, chairman of the Post-Graduate Council and Professor in the Geography department of Utkal University, also supported the argument in favour of restoration of natural water bodies saying development issues need not be seen as an area of conflict with nature. “It should be viewed as the challenge of development,” he said.

“Urbanisation is a reality and will continue at a great pace but activities concerning restoration of environment should also keep pace with it,” Prof Panda said while emphasizing on the concept of water harvesting which had become a world phenomenon.

He said the water body inside the Utkal University campus, which was a spot thronged by people for relaxation in 1975 had since turned into a place where nobody could go because of the stench. The water body had become a lake of stagnant water, he said.

On the other hand, protection provided to another water body inside the Regional Plant Resource Centre (RPRC) had blossomed into a fabulous site for recreation visited by migratory birds, he said.

Prof PK Sahu, Dean of ITER and Prof Manas Ranjan Das, head of the Civil Engineering department of the college also spoke.

Papers were presented by several other researchers on the subject.