Bhubaneswar: In Bhubaneswar, there are many stretches where storm water drains remain uncovered. Every year, several lakh rupees are earmarked for maintenance of storm water drains in the Capital City, but people fall into these traps and die.
In the latest, a 15-year-old boy fell into a swollen storm water drain and was swept away on Sunday. Around 20 hours later, the boy’s body was found at a distance stuck in a bushy stretch inside the drainage channel number 8 (A). The death of this young boy, Joyti Prakash Behera of Dhipasahi in Baramunda has fuelled the anger and desperation.
Such terrible mishaps are commonplace in Bhubaneswar especially during monsoons when the precariously open and flooded drains, offer an invitation to accidents (manmade ones). Let us reminisce a few such cases that left many families shattered over the last few years.
In a strikingly similar case as Jyoti, a nine-year-old boy Pupun Biswal of Behera Sahi in Nayapalli fell into a drain and was swept away. Pupun died in the incident which occurred on August 26, 2015, right in front of a helpless mother. The matter triggered a furore, with the BMC being blamed for shoddy maintenance of storm water drains, sub-drains, covering those with slabs, and timely inspections (before monsoon).
Two years later, two persons died after they were washed away in a drain during the monsoon in the city. This incident from Patia area is a testimony to the lessons learnt from Pupun’s death. Tall promises, passing on the buck but little work on ground. Exactly an year later, in August 2018, a teacher died after falling into an open drain in Unit 6 area of the city. A couple of years back, a 65-year-old lady had drowned in an open drain near the flooded Ekamra Villa road in 2019, and the list goes on.
Apart from the BMC, the Irrigation Department handles the Gangua Nullah and Daya West Bank canal while 50 km of the drainage network is controlled by the Drainage Division. The Road and Bridges Division is responsible for maintenance of natural drains while IDCO manages a few stretches.
“Thanks to the road and pavement designs, encroachment and loss of green cover, water logging has become a perennial issue for the Temple City. Now uncovered drains and water logging is a fatal combination for any city,” said a group of local residents.
“It is high time. The civic authorities and local administration must take the onus and make full proof arrangement to cover open drains in Bhubaneswar. Else, tragedies as Pupun and Jyoti are inevitable in the foreseeable future,” the locals said further.