Glorious temple town growing

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By PRIYA ABRAHAM in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 13.04.08

Bhubaneswar, April 13: “It’s my pride and pleasure and privilege, today on April 13, 1948, to declare that the foundation stone of this capital city of Bhubaneswar has been well and duly laid. I dedicate this city to the well being of the people of Orissa” — reads the marble plaque set up in front of the Assembly.

The plaque, unveiled by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, has been a witness to Bhubaneswar’s growth. When Otto H. Konigsberger, a German town planner, drew the city’ blueprint, it was meant for a population of 20,000. Sixty years down, the city is home to more than 12 lakh people.

Not only has it earned itself a new name as a “temple city”, Bhubaneswar today is much more than just a heritage hub. High-rises, water parks, IT parks, wider roads, flyovers, vending zones and well-lit roads, the city has a lot to boast of as it celebrates 60 years today.

It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in India. The capital is making its way to become one of the upcoming cities with regards to investments, opportunities and growth — with the presence of IT parks such as Infocity-I and Infocity-II.

Bhubaneswar today boasts of being the fifth-cleanest city in the country with citizen and community participation initiatives. However, where there is growth on one hand, there are also distressing signs. A number of the city’s population live in slums. There are 229 slums in the city housing about 3 lakh people. Migration from rural areas has led to its growth — challenging the city’s growth.

Transport systems have remained problematic. “A smooth public transport system remains a dream, absence of parking spaces is a set back for the civic authorities who have been tried all sorts of projects. To achieve what we really want we have to plan 10 years ahead,” conceded mayor Mihir Mohanty.

“Though real estate prices have soared, every citizen must exercise caution before investing,” reminded Nikunj Kishore Dhal, an official of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority.

“The city, once known as a city of gulmohor, has suffered a rapid loss of green cover. There are no gulmohars left and it seems that a day might come soon when it becomes a concrete jungle,” complained a retired government employee, Sanatan Jena.

Drainage and drinking water problems are yet to be fully solved and the BDA, BMC and the general administration department have to make a concerted effort.