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Flood blame on bad drainage

Gangua sweeps teenager away

(From top) The water of Gangua nullah flows dangerously close to the houses on its banks and floodwater surrounds buildings on the Kuakhai riverbed. Pictures by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 8: Gangua nullah, which is overflowing its banks, swept away a teenaged boy from Jharpada this afternoon. A rescue operation is on, fire brigade officials said.

The boy was reportedly swept away while he was trying to cross the rivulet.

Flooding in several areas on the city outskirts by Mahanadi distributaries Daya and Bhargavi and the Gangua nullah has again exposed the city’s poor drainage system apart from the indifference of the authorities towards planned urbanisation.

The situation would not have been so bad had the authorities managed to prevent construction on riverbeds and in low-lying areas.

While in Samigadia near Mancheswar Industrial Estate, the swollen Gangua is flowing dangerously close to houses built on its banks, at Pandra and its adjoining areas along the Kuakhai, several educational institutions are surrounded by floodwaters.

The Gangua nullah has flooded areas along the Sundarpada-Jatni road under Pradhan Sahi panchayat, Kshetrapal, Kuha, Orgali and Kantilo as the water from the nullah is unable to flow into the Daya river at Kakudia under Pipili tehsil.

“The situation has worsened because excess water from the Deras reservoir through four drainage channels — Rangia, Bhanjia, Rangnalia and Jhiria — has also inundated areas on the outskirts, including several apartment blocks. The ground floor of one such apartment — Kalyan Plaza I —has been badly hit,” said Bijayananda Mishra, an Old Town resident.

There has also been a breach in the embankment of Daya river beyond Pipili. This has resulted in the flooding of five blocks of Khurda district, including Jatni, which is on the outer fringe of the city.

Several buildings of two engineering colleges near Barabuda have been partially submerged by floodwater. The area is about 10km from central Bhubaneswar along the Sundarpada-Jatni road.

Manoranjan Ray, a real-estate developer of Jatni, said: “The areas beyond Sundarpada are known to be flood-prone but with no restriction from the authorities, apartment complexes have mushroomed in the area.”

Water from the Gangua nullah has also submerged the area between the Panda bypass on NH-203 and the Sai temple. Water has been flowing into Gangua from Budhi nullah, which empties into Kuakhai.

On the issue of the construction on river embankments, Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) enforcement officer Debaprasad Dash said: “All the houses were constructed without plan approval but our hands are tied as the violators have taken legal recourse.”

Referring specifically to the encroachment of Gangua nullah, a senior BDA official said: “We will take appropriate action against the violators under Article 407 of the Odisha Municipal Corporation Act, for obstructing the natural drainage channel and Section 133 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which pertains to removal of nuisance.”

A senior official of BDA’s planning wing said: “Those who obtained permission from block development officers before 2011 for construction in these areas will need fresh plan approvals from us according to a notification issued by the development authority on May 3. If their violation is limited to 20 per cent of the total area, then it can be compounded. But if it is more than that, then the building will be termed illegal.”

In order to implement provisions of the comprehensive development plan around the city, a State Capital Region Development Fund has been proposed. This corpus fund of Rs 1,000 crore will help execute infrastructure projects such as storm water drainage, major master plan road, low-cost housing, slum development and beautification drives.

“People within the BDA area will benefit immensely from the fund,” said a senior BDA official.