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Hard work before March is past
Flurry of activity creates problems

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 18: The March factor has hit several organisations here, with development work being taken up on a war footing.

With the financial year ending in March, various departments are busy spending funds on projects across the city.

The Public Works Department (PWD) is building drains and roads in many areas of the city to utilise the allocated funds.

For this, roads and pavements have been dug up on many stretches for repairs.

Nrupa Kishore Patnaik, a retired state government employee, said: “The sudden spree of development activities around the city is actually a reflection of what we call the ‘March phenomenon’. From Ashok Nagar to Pokhariput, PWD and the Public Health Engineering Organisation are undertaking many development activities.”

Subhranshu Rath, a resident of Ashok Nagar, said: “The authorities have suddenly taken up drain construction work near our locality. Many areas have been dug up, and we hope that the drains are built soon.”

However, PWD officials said delay in the shifting utility services, such as electric poles, had caused the problem and that’s why the work on the drains had been delayed.

The PWD spends around Rs 50 crore a year to develop, repair and maintain roads across the city.

The Ekamra Square-Airport road is nearing completion, while many roads such as Fire Station-Ekamra Square, Delta Square-CRP Square, CRP Square-Power House Square are yet to be completed.

PWD executive engineer Ranjit Sahu said the Ekamra Square-Airport road would be one of their biggest achievements, but nearly 15 per cent work was pending and would be completed by the last week of January.

However, regarding work on other roads, he said that moving electric poles and other utilities was causing the delay.

This year around Rs 18 crore was spent on various PWD work in and around Ekamra Square alone.

The Public Health Engineering Organisation (PHEO), on the other hand, takes up projects costing nearly Rs 30 crore in a year in the city. Officials claimed that most of the projects this year were nearing completion.

The Khandagiri-Pokhariput-Bhimatangi pipe water supply project and the additional pipe water supply to Mulapadia from the Mundali source near Fire Station are nearing completion at an estimated cost of around Rs 10 crore.

“We have some work pending at various places, but most of the work has been completed. A new underground reservoir and a pipeline supply to Badagada area was inaugurated by the chief minister on Wednesday,” said PHEO executive engineer Manoj Ranjan Nanda.

Senior project engineer, Odisha Water Supply and Sewerage Board (OWSSB), B.K. Parida said though the government departments had to utilise the budget allocation by March 31, organisations such as OWSSB need not do so.

“We get project-based allocation. So, the project will continue till the sewerage is installed in the city. It is not affected by the March factor. We have so far laid 143km of sewage lines while the city needs 412km. However, the progress with respect to the six sewage t reatment plants has been delayed by land acquisition issues.”

Development work under the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation is not affected by the March factor either.

“The allocation is made ward-wise through allocated ward budget, it is not time-specific,” said a senior engineer.

Regarding the slow progress of PWD work, a senior engineer said: “Even after the allocation of funds to a specific engineer, the state government can take away the money and allocate it to another if the work’s progress is not found to be satisfactory.”