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Brick-by-brick blow to lifeline

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 17: Natural drainage channel No. 5 — one of the city’s sewerage lifelines — is facing a serious threat from encroachment and garbage dumping.

The channel, which originates from Kharavela Nagar and travels more than 3.53km to reach Gangua nullah on the city outskirts, lies almost blocked at a number of places because of illegal construction and garbage dumping.

Various colonies and slums at Kharavela Nagar are using the channel’s wall as a support base to construct their houses, while in downstream, after the channel crosses Cuttack Road, even apartment blocks have come up along its wall violating all building norms and regulations.

“The drainage channel No. 5 carries rainwater from areas such as Unit-III and Kharavela Nagar.

“However, several houses along the channel’s route have encroached upon the drain.

“In some cases, concrete pillars of houses are even threatening the channel’s boundary wall,” says Bijay Mishra, a city-based environment expert.

A rag pickers’ colony at Kharavela Nagar has already converted the channel’s bed into sort of a dump yard by dumping all types of waste into it there. To add to it, the dumping of packaging materials by local shopkeepers choke the channel every year and the civic authorities need to clean the channel’s bed before every monsoon to avoid flood-like situations.

“The drainage channel is facing threat of extinction basically from illegal construction and mindless garbage dumping.

The civic authorities need to act urgently to save this sewerage lifeline of the city,” Mishra said.

Local councillor Guru Charan Sahoo admitted to encroachments on both the sides of the channel at Kharavela Nagar.

“I have noticed encroachments along the channel, but as a tendering process for its restoration is under way, the civic authorities will clear it once the work order is issued. At least 15 feet area on both sides of the channel should be free from encroachment,” he added.

Sanjay Mallick, executive engineer of drainage division, Bhubaneswar, said: “The tendering process is under way. A work order will be issued within two months.”

Renovation of natural drainage channels No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 is already under way as part of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.

Drainage division, Cuttack, is taking forward renovation work of channels No. 1, 2, 3 and 4, while its Bhubaneswar counterpart is ready to do it on channels No. 5, 6, 7 and 8.

Renovation of the two other drainage channels — 9 and 10 — will be taken up by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority.

Sources said while the renovation of channel No. 9 will be taken up along with the drainage master plan of all the small drains in Bhubaneswar, part of the channel No. 10 will be converted into a lake and recreational zone.