Jyotiprakash was swept away in the strong current of Lane 8 drain at Shatabdinagar in Baramunda area.
In the last 6 years, as many as 7 persons have died after falling into the open drains. It implies that the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC), the prime civic body of the capital city, has utterly failed in ensuring proper storm water management through required sanitation and sewerage systems.
Lane 8 canal is one of the eight canals for which the Odisha Government has got funds from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA has provided over Rs 2,291 crore for Odisha Integrated Sanitation Improvement Project.
JICA has been working with the Odisha Government since 2007. However, the problem continues as before.
Let’s focus on the state of affairs Bhubaneswar. Previously, drain management in Bhubaneswar, was under the jurisdiction of the Drainage Division, Bhubaneswar. The Drainage Division functioned under the water resources department Bhubaneswar till 2016.
In 2016, the Drainage Division, Bhubaneswar, was created in BMC in after a formal proposal was sent to the H&UD department from BMC on August 7, 2015.
It was then decided that the BMC would manage the 12 major natural drains that handle storm water that includes Lane 8 canal. Storm water implies Stormwater, also spelled storm water, is water that originates from rain, including snow and ice melt.
The Lane 8 canal work was supposed to be completed by 2018.
In both Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, JICA funded sanitation and sewerage projects are being implemented by government agencies. Why does the Drainage Division-Bhubaneswar drag its feet for quick and effective completion of the sanitation and sewerage?
Odisha Government’s indolence and sluggishness in executing sanitation and sewerage projects in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack cities have always been resented by the citizens.
The High Court of Orissa on January 20, 2020 had pulled up the state government for its failure to implement its projects in Cuttack. The HC had then issued notices to the authorities concerned over the ongoing JICA-funded integrated sanitation project undertaken by the Odisha Water Supply and Sewerage Board (OWSSB) in the city.
The division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanju Panda and Justice SK Sahoo had issued the notices after suo motu registering a PIL on the prolonged problems faced by the residents due to inordinate delay in completion of the project.
The Bench took judicial note of the hardships posed due to the unending digging up of roads as part of the project work and accompanying traffic problems. Notices were issued to the Secretary of Works department, Commissioner of Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) and OWSSB authorities to file their responses by February 3, the date fixed for hearing on the case.
In Cuttack, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had laid the foundation stone of the project in October 2012 with July 2016 as the deadline for its completion. But the project work is far from completion. The JICA project envisages a sewage system with an underground gravity sewer line of 385 km. So far, roads have been dug up for completion of 292 km of sewerage line.
The problems were first brought to the notice of Orissa Human Rights Commission (OHRC) by Jayanti Das, a city-based social activist in October last year. Acting on it, the OHRC had directed for formation of a four-member committee headed by the CMC Commissioner to monitor the JICA project.
The rights panel also felt that there was lack of coordination between different departments of the Government and JICA project officials. The committee has a representative of the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Cuttack, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Traffic), Cuttack and Planning Member of CDA as the three other members.