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Buildings rise, facilities wait

High-rise apartments coming up on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar and (below) an automobile showroom along the NH-5 near Pahala. Pictures by Ashwinee Pati and Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 15: Lodged on the outskirts of the city and along NH-5, the sleepy village of Pahala — famous for its mouthwatering rasgullas — has turned into a mega business centre.

Several automobile showrooms and multi-storeyed structures that have come up or being built here are competing with each other for attention. However, the lack of proper infrastructure is taking the sheen off the booming real estate business that has dragged automobile dealers to the area.

Though a spurt in real estate activities has gripped the city’s outskirts, the authorities are yet to get their act together to equip these areas with proper sewerage network, pipe water supply, drainage system and good internal roads.

Local resident and former councillor Sukumar Sahoo said: “The area came under the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation in 2008, but the basic infrastructure is yet to be developed with no proper drains and pipe water supply. New multi-storeyed structures will only complicate the situation and also affect the groundwater level.”

While eight multi-storeyed projects have come up in and around Pahala, two of these are more than 20 storeys.

Kailash Chandra Behera, a local businessman from Pahala, said: “It’s strange that there is no sewerage, drainage and pipe water supply in the locality, but the authorities have given permission to build these towering structures.’’

Behera also said that many pockets in Pahala and Johala did not have provisions for quality drinking water as iron content was high in many wells and borewells.

Speaking to The Telegraph, vice-chairman, Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Vishal Kumar Dev, said: “We are granting permission to multi-storeyed structures after verifying all no-objection certificates issued by relevant agencies.’’

The development authority gives its nod to building plans when accompanied with no-objection certificates from the corporation, public health engineering organisation, sewerage board and the works department.

Last month, the development authority also decided to grant permission to a multi-storeyed building only after a multi-agency team — consisting of experts from all the stakeholders — visits the site and gives its approval.

Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association of India, national joint secretary, D.S. Tripathy said: “Since 2008, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority has incorporated sewerage treatment plant in bigger projects so that waste water generated from the flats can be recycled and used for gardening. All the big real-estate projects on the outskirts have this facility, but in localities threatened by water-logging drainage and sewerage could be a problem.’’

Speaking on drinking water supply, he said: “Since more than 50 per cent areas of the city are not covered under the pipewater supply network, the only option left for real estate developers is to pump it through deep borewells.’’

Arguing for a sync between development and infrastructure support, Tripathy said by providing civic facilities in the new localities the state government could pocket good revenue to compensate the running cost of its projects.

While the public health engineering organisation is planning to cover Pahala under a pipe water supply project after commissioning a water treatment plant near the eastern bank of Kuakhai in the near future, the sewerage board is also likely to take care of the area’s sewerage network.

The corporation might take some time to decide on the development of internal roads and drains as the new council will start functioning after the mayor and the deputy mayor are elected on January 17 and February 5, respectively.