SAMBALPUR: Nature had its unusual way on Sunday as Sambalpur town virtually floated in rainwater. But human negligence proved more painful. Modern phenomenon of encroachment on natural sources had finally its tell-tale effect as drains and outlets choked by illegal structures led pouring rainwater to flow on roads and bylanes besides gushing into any structure that came on its way.
Besides the areas which experience inundation during monsoon, several new areas also bore the brunt of the unprecedented rain.
Areas like Golebazaar, Gaiety Talkies Road and Laxmi Talkies Road experienced flooding for the first time. While clearing water from houses is an annual exercise for people living in low-lying areas, those in the highland were caught off guard this Sunday.
Communication within the town was completely snapped as people were caught in the midst of a pool of water and first floor of several houses got submerged. Water was flowing over the bridge at Dhobihoar Nullah at Beheramunda, Danipali, Thakurpada, Cheruapda and Farm Road. The boundary wall of captive township of Railway collapsed under pressure of the water.
The deluge left LPG cylinders, rice bags, broiler chicken and utensils floating on the roads as water entered houses and rice mills. While people whose house were submerged have moved to safety, the district administration is gearing up to provide relief.
Sambalpur Collector Balwant Singh said more than 20 relief centres have been opened where cooked food is being served. Two teams of ODRAF from Jharsuguda and Balangir, fire brigade from Sambalpur, Deogarh and Jharsuguda have been deployed with boats. “The good news is that the water is receding,” he said.
A closer look at the inundated areas has exposed the complete collapse of the delivery mechanism of the civic body and large scale encroachment. Apathetic attitude of the district administration to the problem has emerged as the major cause of the large scale destruction and devastation that the town witnessed on Sunday.
Unplanned expansion of the town along with narrow outlets to drain out rain water compounded the problem.
Choked water channels in Budharaja Hill and shrinking of the Tengna Nullah and Dhobijoar Nullah due to encroachment saw new areas come under water. New Colony, Bishop House Area and Budharaja were submerged clearly due to choking of the natural water channel from Budharaja Hill.
Earlier, run-off water from the hill and Reserve Forest flowed freely down and joined the Tengna Nullah below SRIT Colony. But, encroachment at the foothills has choked the natural drainage system leading to submergence of Budharaja and SRIT Colony.
People of Budharaja recalled how the massive width of Tenga nullah, which starts from Budharaja and joins Dhobijoar Nullah after carrying sewerage along AN Guha Lane, VSS Marg and Kumbharpada, kept the areas free of inundation. The shrinking width of Tenga nullah and Dhobijoar Nullah has been attributed to encroachments. Encroachers have filled up the nullahs at many places to construct dwelling units.
The problem of waterlogging cropped up after the height of roads and drains was raised in violation of the rules. Even the builders and developers who promised wide roads never mentioned about drainage system.
The Sambalpur Development Authority and the municipal authorities allegedly closed their eyes to the impending problem while giving permission for constructions.
Sluice Gates Closed
The situation began easing off after 19 sluice gates of Hirakud Dam were closed after 9 am to facilitate opening of gates at the discharge points in the town to release rain water.