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Shrink cloud over canal road project

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 22: The much-awaited Integrated Daya West Canal Road Project, covering 7.8km, is likely to be completed by October next year.

But as work on the project threatens to shrink the width of Daya West Canal, doubts have come up over the possibility of the water body being used for proposed recreational purposes.

The project, which aims to join NH-5 with NH-203 from Palasuni Square to Garage Square, will facilitate smooth flow of traffic between Rasulgarh and Samantarapur as NH-203 remains chock-a-block with traffic.

There is a plan to invest Rs 23 crore on the road-laying work, Rs 7 crore on the shifting of utility services such as electricity poles and other expenses related to eviction of encroachers.

Public works department (PWD) executive engineer C.P. Gantayat of Division IV in the city, who is in charge of the project, said: “It will be completed on time and all the components such as water availability for boating and recreation facilities will be in place. Other elements such as bus bays, autorickshaw stand and common parking lots will be created according to the plan.”

The road construction on either side has progressed a lot between Palasuni and Badagada Brit Colony, and the construction of several bridges is also progressing at a fast rate at many places between these two points.

Piyush Ranjan Rout, a resident of Santoshi Vihar near the road project, said: “The PWD authorities have said that the water body will not be completely squeezed and there is a possibility of the tourism promotion plan not being hit. But seeing the construction of bridges within every half kilometre, the dream for a boating plan seems impossible.”

He said that before it became polluted with sewerage from nearby houses and apartment blocks, Daya West Canal was a perfect example of a balanced ecosystem till the late 1980s. “The water body was like a lifeline to areas such as Sundarpada. As Old Town consists of laterite soil, the water flow in the canal used to recharge the groundwater. With the present design squeezing the canal, the water-carrying capacity will decrease.”

Senior citizens of Laxmisagar recall the flow of clear river water from the Mahanadi system through the canal. However, as agricultural land on the city outskirts gradually became housing zones, the need for roads was felt.

Regarding the apprehensions, executive engineer Gantayat said: “The flow level of water and the capacity will not change in the channel as both its sides will be reinforced with concrete walls.”

Stating that the bridges under construction will be spacious enough to allow the passage of boats under them, Gantayat told The Telegraph that “once the road-laying work is ready, then other beautification and public facilities will be added to the structure. If possible, there could be a barricade on both the side of the water channel to prevent accidents. However, it depends on the funds availability.”

WATER WAY

What: 7.8km-long Integrated Daya West Canal Road Project

Where: Palasuni on NH-5 to Garage Square on NH-203 along Daya West Canal

Why: Project will facilitate smooth flow of traffic between Rasulgarh and Samantarapur

How: Two roads being laid on two banks of old canal

Launch: Foundation stone laid on May 22, 2011, by chief minister Naveen Patnaik

Project cost: Rs 30 crore

Deadline: October 2014

Ecological loss: More than 60 full-grown trees felled