Bhubaneswar, Aug. 19: Encroachment on river basins near the city has become a headache for the government with the flow of the Kuakhai river being blocked at three different places.
While two educational institutions have their campuses located in the Kuakhai basin near Pandra, a new four-storey structure, part of an upcoming institution, is being built in the same area by constructing a check dam to block the flow of water. The site is 3km from Pandra.
Principal secretary of the water resources department Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said: “We have asked the authorities of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) to serve demolition notices on the institutions which have constructed buildings without approved building plans or clearances from any others authority that was required.”
The department has also served a notice under the Irrigation Act to these institutions. But since it has no police or magisterial powers, the Khurda collector has been requested to act against the violators through the local tehsildar. Tehsildars wield official authority over land in river basins in their respective areas.
Mohapatra added that the department had requested the state government to confer magisterial powers on its executive engineers so that they could act against illegal constructions in river basins or natural drainage channels immediately. Drainage channels such as Gangua nullah are also facing encroachment threats.
“If people continue to encroach on such land, the city will face a major flood threat. There is an immediate need to remove the illegal structures,’’ said executive engineer of drainage division (Cuttack), Pradip Duria, who looks after renovation of the first four natural drainage channels in Bhubaneswar. The city has 10 natural drainage channels.
Interestingly, even a year after the flood waters of the Mahanadi through the Daya river caused havoc in the low-lying areas around the Sundarpada-Jatni road, the state government is yet to take action. Nearly 1,000 people in multi-storey apartment complexes in these areas had to be evacuated by the rescuers of Odisha Fire Services.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had convened a meeting in the wake of the floods and called for “exemplary action” against the violators.
City-based urban management practitioner Piyush Ranjan Rout said: “It is unfortunate that both the water resources department and the BDA are unable to stop these illegal structures. We are always talking about using satellite-based urban planning and flood control, but no action is taken against violators at the righ time. The authorities should rise up to the occasion and act.”
Zilla parishad member Sangram Keshari Paikray said: “Last year, an illegal bridge was partially demolished near Sishupalgarh by the water resources department. However, the original concrete structure still lies there blocking the water flow in Gangua nullah. The authorities should clear the obstacle immediately.”