BHUBANESWAR: With monsoon knocking at the door, the dreadful memories of Bhubaneswar floods last year have returned to haunt the denizens of the Capital City. The signs are telltale. Larger part of major storm water channels and the drain network continue to be heavily sedimented and clogged with debris and garbage including plastic waste, thus laying ground for a rerun of the nightmarish week during rains last year. The Capital stares at another major spate of urban flooding, thanks to the failure of the civic administration in learning lessons from last year or making sincere efforts to prevent such a calamity.
The apathy is writ large as not a stretch of a main storm water channel or a drain in any locality bears the mark of cleaning or desilting. To make matters worse, the drains at many places are encroached. The worst-affected pockets of last year’s flooding are sitting ducks this year too. Take a look at the storm water channel near Vani Vihar. With only days left for the monsoon to arrive, it is buried under heavy sediment and filled almost to the brim with plastic and solid waste.
The 5.63 km-long channel, one of the major drains in the City, has a carrying capacity of over 22 MLD water. Due to lack of cleaning measures, it is silted up to two metres at many places. In present condition, it will barely manage to carry 16 MLD waste water to Gangua nallah, leading to spillage and flooding in its periphery, sources said. The state of the drain network across most vulnerable areas like Bomikhal, Laxmisagar, Gouri Nagar, Nayapalli, Jaydev Vihar and Sailashree Vihar is equally abysmal. “Our area bore the brunt of flooding last year.
This time, we had thought the civic administration would be proactive but nothing of the sort is visible. It looks like another disaster is waiting to happen in our locality,” said Sudhansu Guru, a resident of Nayapalli. The total length of drain network in the Capital City is around 726 km of which the main storm water channels account for 56.32 km and internal drains 670 km. While the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) is in charge of maintaining the drains, what galls is the fact that the civic body has not only failed in its duty but also is clueless about the progress of work.
The BMC on its own is carrying out desilting operations in all the 10 major storm water channels and 35 km internal drains. For the rest, it has outsourced the job to three private agencies Jagruti, Ramky and PMR. It is spending around `48 crore every year for cleaning and repair activities through these agencies. Curiously, it does not have any knowledge of the work undertaken by them. According to sources, more than 50 per cent of the internal drains are yet to be desilted. An official of a private agency admitted to the slow pace of work but attributed the delay to poor funding by BMC.
“We are paid only `500 to lift one tonne silt from drains which is too less as the labour cost is around `1,000. Besides there are transportation charges,” the official said on the condition of anonymity. BMC Engineer (Drainage) Pradip Duria, however, said, “ The payment is made to the agencies as per agreed terms and Government scheduled rate. Work is on full speed to desilt the drains before monsoon and it will be completed in a few days.”