Water recedes but city residents still worried in Bhubaneswar

Meanwhile, BMC Commissioner Vijay Amruta Kulange said the civic body has deployed its workers in some of the areas which were worst affected in the deluge.
Odisha rains
Odisha rains

BHUBANESWAR: It was after two days of mayhem that stormwater could be completely drained out of Preeti Lata’s house in Rajiv Nagar in the city on Wednesday. Lata and her five-member family including an infant spent the last two nights sitting on a bed - the only place that remained dry in her single-storey house. The family has lost all its household goods including rice bags in the kitchen, appliances, important documents and much more to the deluge.

Rajiv Nagar, which has a saucer-shaped topography, is one of the low-lying areas where water had not receded even after a day of torrential rains. Close to 100 families reside in the area and some of them had to be shifted to safety in boats by ODRAF personnel on Monday night when water entered the colony after the side wall of drainage channel 9 collapsed due to excess runoff.

“Monday’s inundation was beyond our imagination but waterlogging is a problem that we have been living with for the last 12 years. The drainage channel was cleaned just a few days back and the silt wasn’t removed from the site,” Lata said. Also, with the construction of buildings underway at the colony, sand and other materials flowed into the drain blocking the free flow of stormwater further, she added.

For Lata and many others like her living in low-lying areas of the state capital, the problems are far from over even as the stormwater has been drained out. While many incurred huge losses with their properties being damaged due to inundation, people fear that the situation might reappear if the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) fails to act quickly on improving the drainage system and making them encroachment free.

Contrary to BMC claims of desilting all the 10 main drains measuring 71 km and a majority of peripheral drains, people of Rajiv Nagar, Old Town, Panchasakha Nagar, Soubhagya Nagar, Bhimtangi, Laxmisagar and Jharpada could not get respite from waterlogging. In many areas, the roads remained covered with dirt, filth and mud.

The 10 primary drains carry water to Gangua Nala, which acts as the trunk drain carrying water till the receiving water body of river Daya. Mayor Sulochana Das said although the drains were cleaned, the workers who had recently removed unwanted vegetation and waste from Daya (west) canal had dumped it at the canal bank. As a result, all of it flowed back into the canal due to rains. At some places, these drains are squeezed into five feet due to encroachments, making it impossible for the water to be drained out, she said.

Meanwhile, BMC Commissioner Vijay Amruta Kulange said the civic body has deployed its workers in some of the areas which were worst affected by the deluge. These workers will do real-time monitoring of the water flow in drains and find out the shortcomings. “All major drains were cleaned in June and we will start the second phase of cleaning plastic, silt and waste from the drains now to ensure that stormwater flow is smooth in case of severe and abnormal rains,” he said. Stating that Monday’s deluge has come as a lesson for the BMC, Kulange said the civic body is working with all the line departments to address the issues related to drain encroachments and cleaning.

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