CUTTACK: Active patronage provided by Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) to dumping debris on river beds encircling the Millennium City has got the Water Resources (WR) Department seething.
The Department has now made a last ditch effort by writing to the Collector of Cuttack, Commisisoner of Police as well as the CMC authorities to curb the menace. If no action is taken, the issue will be taken up at the highest levels of the Government, the Department has decided.
The apathetic attitude of the civic authorities as well as police and district administration towards restricting disposal of construction debris and excavated waste on the bed of rivers Mahanadi and Kathjodi has posed serious threat to Cuttack city.
Experts have warned that the existence of the city itself will be at stake if this practice is not stopped forthwith. Following a ban clamped by former Collector Girish SN, the disposal was temporarily shifted to Kathjodi river along the stretch from Purighat to Khan Nagar. But with the present dispensation becoming lax, the menace has returned to Mahanadi.
To add to woes, police have been completely indifferent, even to the extent of not accepting complaints by WR Department officials against offenders, let alone take any action. The situation has come to such a point that the Department officials are now sending complaints by post.
“We are staring at a very serious situation in the near future if urgent corrective measures are not taken. The rivers would soon cease to sustain the water flow during floods which will lead to catastrophic consequences,” Executive Engineer of Mahanadi South Division, Ashok Samal said.
Hundreds of tonnes of debris and waste are being disposed on river beds along the Ring Road embankment with not only individual citizens but also civic body being the perpetrators. The tunnel digging works under the JICA assisted integrated sewerage project for Cuttack city has only compounded the menace.
According to sources, even though there is no survey of the extent of burying of the river beds, expert estimates have put it over three feet at strategic locations like Balijatra grounds in the last decade or so. Coupled with natural process of sand casting with no effort to dig the river beds in the last 25 years, the dumping is leading to alarming reduction in water carrying capacity of the rivers.
The effects are already becoming visible with the river appearing to take an inward bend from its course. It has been increasingly eating into the Balijatra grounds year by year.
“With the river bed rising, the embankments will be raised. Cuttack, as a result, will take shape of a well. And any eventuality will lead to disaster,” Samal added.