SAMBALPUR: Mushrooming slums have marred the city’s landscape. But little has been done to evict the dwellers despite a State Government’s directive to free the town of slums.
There are 103 slums in Sambalpur municipal limits and with 32 and 33 slums located in Burla and Hirakud NAC respectively, the number swells to 168.
A survey undertaken by Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation (GITCO) for preparing a Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for greater Sambalpur revealed that 66 per cent of the slums in Sambalpur are located along the main road while 24 per cent are situated near nullahs, 7 per cent along the railway tracks and 3 per cent on hill slopes.
While there is no denying that these slums have been flourishing in connivance with various government agencies, their voting for political parties en masse have made them privileged citizens.
The slum at Station Pada is the biggest with the land belonging to the Railways. Repeated attempts of Sambalpur railway division to evict them have proved futile due to alleged political intervention.
Similarly, the Ramgarh slum named after Hindi blockbuster Sholay, has extended to Budharaja Reserve Forest in the heart of Sambalpur town. The thatched roof of the houses too have been replaced with RCC.
Though the then Conservator of Forest Rajeev Kumar promised to evict them, it remained a mere lip service. The present Divisional Forest Officer (Sambalpur South) Santosh Banchor is yet to initiate any action against the encroachers despite repeated requests by the denizens.
Besides, embankments of traditional water harvesting structures across the town have been encroached upon, rendering them useless. The slums directly discharge sewage into water bodies which remains covered with weeds and hyacinth.
The CDP draft report also stressed on relocation
of slums over 16.13 hectares on the wasteland near Railway Bridge on the banks of the Mahanadi and resettlement of 13 slum pockets along Dhobijore and Tangna nullahs.