Encroachments at Vani Vihar Square in Bhubaneswar. Picture by Ashwinee Pati
Bhubaneswar, July 1: The civic body is preparing a blueprint for a major eviction drive to remove encroachments from roads and drains in its three administrative zones across the city.
The aim of the drive is to ensure hassle-free traffic movement by removing encroachments from city roads and ensuring smooth maintenance of covered drains, an otherwise difficult task because of the presence of slum dwellers and street vendors.
"Common roads and drains, which have been encroached upon in various locations of the city, will be freed. We often receive complaints about encroachments that disturb public life, but couldn't do it properly because of opposition from local residents," said mayor Ananta Narayan Jena.
Jena said they now had come up with a different plan to tackle the issue. "We will decentralise the process and depute the zonal officer to commence the job in their respective zones. The zonal deputy commissioners will come up with a list of encroachments, following which the enforcement squad will conduct eviction drives," said the mayor.
The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has decided to take up the job actively only after the Asian Athletics Championship concludes on July 9.
"Our officials are busy setting up infrastructure for the grand event. We will conduct rigorous eviction drive after the games," said a civic official, adding that other city agencies would also be involved to complete eviction drive.
The housing and urban development department has formed two squads - the Central Enforcement Monitoring Committee and the Special Joint Squad - to remove encroachments from different parts of the city. These two squads have been undertaking eviction drives since January.
Besides the civic body, the squads have members from the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, general administration department and the police.
"The formation of the two squads has made eviction drives easier. We have cleared Janpath and Bidyut Marg from encroachments within three months," said the development authority's liaison officer Subhransu Sekhar Mohanty.
Mohanty said they removed encroachments from major city arteries, but were yet to enter the inner parts of the city.
"There is encroachment almost everywhere. It is a major issue in the inner parts of the city. The civic body is going on the right path and focusing on the lanes now after clearing the main roads," he said.
During the previous Assembly session, then housing and urban development department minister Pushpendra Singh Deo, answering the question of another legislator, said there were about 320 unauthorised slums, which had encroached over 400 acres of valuable government land.
"Slum settlements are a major problem in every growing city, including Bhubaneswar. It is true that they have encroached on government land, but we can't evict them since we need them for daily work. They need to be evicted, but the administration should also ensure their rehabilitation," said city-based social worker Alok Kar.