Odisha: Encroachments a Menace for the Smart City Bhubaneswar

It is not possible for a chief minister of a state to keep track of what is happening in every nook and corner of the city he lives in. But if the officials of the local Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) and also the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) don’t enforce the rules and laws; it ultimately benefits a handful of people but antagonises a majority of population. Now can the chief minister turn a blind eye to it?

For instance, the PWD, BMC and BDA take utmost care to repair and construct roads, drains and other infrastructure of areas developed by the government. Especially the localities which constitutes of government offices, quarters, bunglows, govt. allocated plots and housing schemes or the major roads of the city. They also keep these areas more or less encroachment free.

But when it comes to areas which are held by private individuals or developed by developers are the most neglected. For example localities in GGP Colony, Jharpada, Laxmisagar, VSS Nagar, Cuttack road, Buddheswari colony, Old town, Gandamunda, Khandagiri and many other places don’t get similar attention. The maps of road of these areas submitted or available with the BDA or BMC don’t match with the physical existence of the same. Roads have either shrunk or disappeared. Similarly drains and parks in such areas exist only in files but in reality such places have either been encroached by individuals or by groups of people and being put to commercial use to earn money out of it.

Every lane and by-lane in Bhubaneswar has one or more illegal encroachment. And such individuals who have encroached are either backed by a local political worker or the local municipal councillor. They use all the tricks to silence any resistance against the encroachment from the local residents. Such encroachments which go unreported have either blocked roads making it a dead end or blocked roads connecting to another road. All of this results in inconvenience to thousands of people residing in a particular locality. Blocking of roads and drains cause artificial flood during heavy rains but the authorities never bother.

Another major encroachment that can cause problems in the near future is the encroachment of the taladanda canal flowing through the city. Slums in form of pucca houses have come up on the bed of this canal which can cause man-made floods. At some places it is choked the reason being garbage dumping. One such canal bed encroachment is clearly visible near Jagannath Nagar which begins from the front of Jagannath Enclave in Jharpada area and stretches towards GGP colony.

Since the officials ignore encroachments or indulge in corrupt practices to overlook encroachments it will only complicate matters in future. Illegal construction of apartments and demolition order later has already put the government in a dock. Before things go out of hand BDA and BMC should identify all the lanes and by-lanes which have encroachments within the city. The BMC constructs roads in these localities but overlooks encroachments and this must stop. A further woe is that the government allows roads to be owned by private individuals or developers. This gives scope to individuals and developers sell off existing roads that can obstruct entry and exit to residential localities or individual plots of land.

To make matters worse the local councillors or political workers of whichever political party they belong to, fail to understand that helping one single encroachment can draw ire of hundreds. Even a popular UPA government was down to 44 seats in the parliament because of many wrongs they indulged in during their rule. Lessons need to be learnt from this burning example. Streamlining the system and enforcement of law strictly will hurt a few but will benefit thousands. And it needs to be done soon.

One should never forget old proverbs because they never go wrong “a stitch in time saves nine”.


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