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Hotel project runs into murky waters

Bhubaneswar, April 5: A hotel project in Bhubaneswar has courted controversy even before the first brick has been laid.

The site for the construction of the four-star hotel in Unit IX seems to have encroached upon an area that falls along the route of a natural drainage channel.

In addition to this, dumping of the soil and other material excavated from the site has changed the course of the channel altogether resulting in major changes to the bed of the water body.

“Violation of civic rules in case of water bodies has become rampant in the entire city. While low-lying areas are being encroached upon and converted into concrete jungles, the filling of low-lying patches and drainage channels has become a day-to-day practice. This has resulted in depletion of the ground water table. It also generates more heat within the city,” said Nabakishore Mahalik, retired professor of geology, Utkal University.

A senior officer of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) said dumping of the soil near the project site would also affect the proposed plan to convert the entire 28-acre area along the basin of the drainage channel into a lake and water park. The basin stretches from BDA City Centre to Satyanagar. The concept of the lake was developed by BDA and the general administration department was given a formal request for land. When the authorities had planned the formation of the lake and water park, they were hoping for central assistance. This ambitious project would have transformed the look of the entire area.

Officers of the enforcement wing of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) visited the construction site after a public complaint was lodged regarding dumping of soil on the roadside along Janpath, opposite Satya Nagar crematorium.

“We have slapped a fine of Rs 12,000 on the violators and asked them to clean the road as soon as possible. Regarding dumping of the soil and excavated material near the project site, we have already spoken to senior officers of the general administration department. All government land in the city comes under the purview of the general administration department,” said Vishal Kumar Dev, BMC commissioner.

The managers at the work site said they had not dumped the debris lying on the road, for which the BMC officials slapped a fine.

“It was dumped by contractor doing the road work,” said one of the managers.

However, a senior officer associated with the hotel project assured that once the construction work reached a certain level, the soil deposited on the water channel will be re-used for filling up the surrounding area and the rest would be dumped far away from the site.

“Besides we have sought permission from the general administration department for dumping the excavated material at the site. We hope that the refilling will be done before the rainy season so that there wouldn’t be obstruction of the water flow in the drainage channel,” said a senior officer.

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