|FLOW TO NOWHERE: Overloaded with sewage from all drainage channels, Gangua nullah faces encroachment by real estate developers (file pictures)
Bhubaneswar, Aug. 5: Gangua nullah, the carrier of sewage of all the natural drainage channels in the city, is faced with threats of encroachment from real estate developers. This has put has put civic officials in a quandary as they were trying to free the channels of encroachments.
Gangua nullah plays an important role in the city’s drainage management as it collects all the water coming through the natural drainage channels and discharges them into Daya river on the city outskirts.
As the natural drainage channels have become sewerage channels with people connecting their waste water pipes to them, Gangua nullah has come to act as a ‘sewerage treatment plant’ with the city’s entire load of domestic and industrial wastes flowing into it.
There are 88 industries and two industrial clusters in the locality, of which 34 are classified as industries with the potential to pollute water. All of them discharge their effluents right into Gangua through the drainage channels.
Few months ago, some builders and real estate dealers started dumping red soil on the bed of the Gangua nullah near Brahmeswar Patna in ward No. 54 of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC).
On May 4, the BMC took note of the development and its officials inspected the site where the channel was being blocked. It has also brought the matter to the notice of water resources department as the area falls under its jurisdiction.
But local residents, including the councillor of ward No. 54, alleged that ever since May 4, not a single team had come to inspect the site and do the needful.
However, BMC officials pleaded their helplessness as the area, where the channel has been obstructed, does not fall under their jurisdiction.
The councillor and local residents also said that some people have applied for plan approval of the encroached area from Bhubaneswar Development Authority.
“If the area is reclaimed completely from the nullah’s bed and houses are built there with BDA nod or illegally, then there remains a chance of flooding of the entire area, comprising Brahmeswar Patna, Radhakrushna Nagar, Gadamahavir Nagar, Shree Nagar, Jagannath Ashram, Megheswar Temple compound, Megheswar Colony, Badagada and Bankuala,’’ said the ward councillor.
“We cannot permit a person to build house on the course of a drainage channel. We are making people aware not to buying land from these builders, who have a dubious background. However, if they come to us after purchasing land, we cannot do anything. But, we will surely instruct our planners not to approve of any plans for construction on the channel’s basin,” said BDA planning member Prashant Kumar Patnaik.
Residents of Brahmeswar Bagh, however, said that houses were constructed violating all norms right on the course of the waterbody.
“The comprehensive development plan of the BDA prepared by Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, shows the width of Gangua nullah as 100 metres. But, it is hardly a 14-metre-wide patch now,” said a resident.
Retired professor of geology at Utkal University, Nabakishore Mahalik, said: “Waterbodies such as Gangua nullah were helping to recharge the groundwater table.
“By now, we should have made operational a sewerage system to free Gangua nullah from pollution. The basin of the waterbody should remain clean and free from encroachment.”
“With unmindful construction activities around the course of this waterbody, we are also creating further waterlogging problems,” he added.
Historian Bijay Kumar Rath said: “Gangua was the moat around Sisupalgarh Fort, which was probably the fort of emperor Kharavela. Known as Gandhabati in ancient times, transformation of the beautiful moat to a wastewater nullah (drain) has become a shame for the city, which was also known as Ekamrakanan in the past.’’
According to a study, the 35.7km Gangua nullah discharges approximately 652 cusecs of water into Daya river on a daily basis.