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| Last Updated:: 08/08/2016

Water bodies vanish from Millennium City's surface










CUTTACK: There was a time when the beautiful Ganga Mandir pond, with crystal clear water, was filled with water lilies, lotuses, swans and an array of colourful birds. Their magical chirping and singing enthralled people.



"It was the best place to hangout. Soaking in the magical sunset sitting near the pond was a visual treat," recollects 68-year-old Dinakar Das, a resident of Odia Bazaar, with a smile on his face.



Now the beauty of the pond is lost with weeds and bushes having grown all over. The size of the pond has also shrunk. "Very soon the historic pond will become history," said Dinakar.



This is not the fate of only one pond. Water bodies across the city are faced with similar situation.The Millennium City once had over 1,400 ponds. It is now left with just 200. With rampant construction and filling of water bodies by the land mafia, many ponds have vanished.



Those existing ones are struggling to survive as the Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) is hardly taking any step to renovate those. In deference to the Orissa high court orders, the CMC in 2010 announced to renovate and revive ponds in the city. But even after six years the project is yet to take off.



CMC sources claimed that even Rs 5 crore was sanctioned for the project but the fund is lying unutilized.The Ganga Mandir pond was cleaned for the last time in 1980s.



"Many projects were announced to beautify it but little has been done to turn the plans into reality," alleged Arun Sethi, local corporator.



Besides the depleting water bodies, the lackadaisical attitude of CMC in preserving these ponds, is a major cause of worry for the denizens. The high court had directed authorities to revive the pond, which were filled after 2005, along with protecting the existing ones.



"Forget about revival of the filled ponds, the CMC has done little over the years even to chalk out a plan for conservation of water bodies. It is painful to see the plight of the beautiful water bodies, which have now become breeding grounds of mosquitoes and insects," said P R Dash, who was amicus curie of the case in which court had ordered preservation of water bodies. 



Dash added that during hearing of the case, government agencies had filed an affidavit citing that there were 424 water bodies in the Millennium City in 1990 but by 2006 the number had come down to 245. Of these 245, CMC had to renovate 66 ponds, said Dash.



Experts said that waterlogging problem in the concave-shaped city has compounded due to disappearing ponds, as they had been acting as storage for rainwater. They also impacted the groundwater level on which the city depends for drinking water.



"Even the temperature of the city is also shooting up in past few years. It's not that the authorities are not aware about the alarming situation, but nothing is being done to save the water bodies. Even the high court's intervention has not been fruitful in saving these dying water bodies," said a lawyer, Radheshyam Sharma.



CMC authorities have claimed that ponds renovation project will start soon. Majority of the ponds is owned by private parties and we are yet to arrive at a solution as who will maintain those after renovation. "So, we have decided to take up renovation of 11 ponds, located on government land, from September," said CMC commissioner Gyana Das.







Source:  The Times of India