| Residents battle waterlogging at New Forest Park Colony in Bhubaneswar. Telegraph pictures |
Bhubaneswar, July 22: The overflowing rainwater from the natural drainage channel No. 4 is inundating not only the much-talked-about Acharya Vihar, but also various other areas, including New Forest Park Colony, which is a stone’s throw from the chief minister’s official residence.
The colony, which is situated along channel No. 7, saw unprecedented flooding around 10.30pm on Friday. It took more than 24 hours for rainwater to recede from there.
Pramod Kumar Biswal, a local resident, said: “Around 9.30pm, I went out on work. Soon after, I got a call from a family member informing me that water level in the area was rising dangerously all of a sudden. I got to know that the rising water level had already flooded several houses in the locality that were built in a low-lying area than that of ours. The water level, instead of receding, came gushing with more force the next morning. Later, we came to know that our area was waterlogged as the city received more than 100mm rainfall for three consecutive days ending yesterday.”
Biswal has been staying at New Forest Park Colony for the last two decades. “I had never seen such floodwater in Bhubaneswar in my lifetime and got scared as school kids had to wade though waist-deep water even yesterday. Vehicles and two-wheelers parked in the area were also affected in the waters. Though encroachment is a major problem, diversion of the drainage channel’s water in the downstream by a person is suspected to be the reason for the flood-like situation,” he added.
Ekamra MLA Ashok Kumar Panda admitted that encroachment had become a big problem for all the drainage channels, especially for the channel No. 7. Incidentally, Panda’s residence is also close to the locality that faced severe waterlogging because of the channel.
“Both the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and the Bhubaneswar Development Authority must take immediate measures to demolish illegal structures blocking the natural flow of the drain. Recently, we came to know that a person has also blocked the entire channel in the downstream by constructing a wall. This should be immediately looked into by the civic and planning bodies,” Panda said.
The local MLA said it should also be looked into how the entire zone, which was once a low-lying paddy field, got suitability certificate for housing projects.
This year, the civic authorities also neglected desiltation of the channel bed.
Rainwater in the channel No. 7 accumulates from Ganga Nagar, Odisha University of Agriculture Technology, Bhimpur, Biju Patnaik Airport, Forest Park, Capital Hospital, Bapuji Nagar, Unit-II, Rajmahal and Sishu Bhavan areas.
Interestingly, all renovation work of the natural drainage channels is restricted to only four channels — 1,2,3 and 4. While work for the four other channels — 5,6,7 and 8 — are supposed to be taken up in the next phase, nothing has materialised in reality. According to data available with the drainage division, an investment of Rs 16.5 crore has been earmarked for the renovation of the channel No. 7.
Retired geology professor of Utkal University N.K. Mahalik said: “The entire terrain of the capital is clear as the channels originate from the west and go towards the east to meet Gangua nullah. It should ideally take some minutes to drain out the rainwater as it used to be about 15 years ago. But, there is some problem with drainage clearance and the engineers must find out the solution to this.”