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Water bodies on revamp route

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 15: The state government will take up an urban wetland management plan to restore and preserve four major water bodies here.

The four water bodies are located near the airport, along Ratha Road, BDA City Centre and Vani Vihar lake. Work on the first two is expected to begin within a week. The Bindusagar lake’s health depends on the condition of these two water bodies.

Environment and forests minister Bijayshree Routray yesterday chaired a meeting yesterday attended by officials of the general administration department, forest, revenue, urban development and water resources. Environment and geology experts also took part in the meeting.

The revival proposal was given a go-ahead at the meeting and a detailed project report for the water bodies near the airport and along Ratha Road will shortly be prepared because these are vital for survival of Bindusagar lake.

The Telegraph has published a series of reports on the revival of these water bodies since they work as natural cooling agents and help recharge the ground water table. Rapid urbanisation has wiped away a number of water bodies from various parts of the city.

The minister asked officials to begin work on the urban wetland management plan. Initially, the state government will bear the project cost, and later, help from the Centre or other agencies will be sought.

Since land on the catchment of the drainage channel No. 7 is under the general administration department, the officials were told to make arrangements, so that work near Biju Patnaik Airport and along Ratha Road could begin shortly.

The Bhubaneswar Development Authority had prepared a plan to revive the lakes and water bodies of the city in the eighties.

The water body near the Regional Institute of Education and the airport area were in the list. However, that plan never materialised.

However, the development authority claimed this year that the BDA City Centre on natural drainage channel No. 10 will be converted into a lake with recreational and parking facilities and that the organisation had already prepared a detailed project report for it.

Former geology professor of Utkal University Nabakishore Mahalik said: “Both the civic body and the development authority have been neglecting the water bodies since long.”

“The state government should look for a concrete solution to the problems of the water bodies. Eco-management projects of three water bodies — Laxmisagar, Nicco Park and Vani Vihar lake — were taken up in collaboration with a leading city-based management institute. But that turned out to be a sheer waste of public money. There should be long-tern benefits for the city and its public,” urban development expert Piyush Ranjan Rout said.

Rout said while renovating the natural drainage channel No. 4 (of which the Vani Vihar lake is a part), the water resources department had erected concrete walls on the sides of the lake and this might not help groundwater percolate into the water body.

The state government will take up renovation of the Vani Vihar lake and the BDA City Centre after renovation of the water bodies along the channel No. 7 is complete.

“If timely action is not taken, all water bodies will, one day, be converted into real estate properties,” he said.