Daily Archives: April 18, 2014

Civic Body Apathy Leaves Sen Park in A Shambles

One of the oldest recreational hubs of Sambalpur Town, Sen Park lies in a shambles, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the Municipality. Spreading over three acres of land, the park has turned into a hunting ground of anti-socials as lack of maintenance on the part of the civic body is keeping people away from it.

The park got its name from Jitendra Nath Sen, the chairman of Sambalpur Municipality from 1901 to 1920 and on whose land it is situated.

The Park got a major facelift after renovation work was taken up for the first time in 2002. The new look saw people flocking the park in hundreds.

The park also became a favourite place of children after new equipment like swings, seesaws, slides and other amusement facilities were augmented on its premises. While parents took a stroll in the park, the children enjoyed the outdoor games.

However, the park lost its sheen as the municipality failed in maintaining and upkeeping the recreational hub. The civic body neither bothered to looked after the facilities that were put in place nor tried to upgrade the infrastructure.

In 2011, lights were installed in the park as part of a beautification drive. But the drive turned into a farce as majority of the light posts became defunct due to lack of watch and guard system. Soon after, the newly constructed fountains in the park stopped functioning.

Vice-president of Sen Park Surakshya Samiti (SPSS) Gokul Meher said a music system was also put in place in the Park. But today, neither the music system works nor the swings are functioning. After repeated missives to the municipality yielded no result, the members of SPSS collected money from among themselves and repaired the swings a few years back, Meher said.

Similar sentiment was echoed by secretary of SPSS Mohammad Sanaullah. He said the municipality has failed miserably to maintain and develop the park. The park is out of bounds for the residents after the sun sets as the lightposts have stopped working, he rued. “It’s high time the municipal authorities took note of the sorry state of the park. Though the Sambalpur Municipality will be upgraded into a corporation soon, the town lacks a proper recreational hub to cater to the needs of the people,” Sanaullah added.

When contacted, Executive Officer of Sambalpur Municipality Aniruddha Pradhan said beautification works are underway in the park with `5 lakh provided by the Western Odisha Development Council. The municipality is in no position to develop the park on its own as there is dearth of fund, he added.

Forest Dept Wakes up to Evict Ramgarh

The Forest department has woken up again to the problem of encroachment of Budharaja Reserve Forest (RF), the only green patch inside the town located here at the heart of Sambalpur town. Once spread over 113 acres, the Reserve Forest has reduced to 75 acres now.

The visit of the then Forest Conservator Rajeev Kumar in 2013 also failed to evoke any response.

The encroachment of the RF began in late seventies when few huts came up on the slope of RF. Gradually the slum named as Ramgarh grew while 7.17 acres of land was delineated from the RF for establishment of graveyard for Odia Baptist Christian community and to house the reservoir of Greater Sambalpur Drinking Water Project. This apart, 1.25 acres of land has been delineated for the Lord Shiva temple and another 2.5 acres for a concrete road to the hill top. Moreover, report submitted earlier by field staff of the Forest Department point to the encroachment by District Institute of Education and Training, office of the District Education Officer, office of Ground Water Testing Authority besides the Ramgarh slum and encroachment by the Christian community for the graveyard. In June 2013 the Town Ranger, S C Khuntia had said the department had made up its mind to clear the slum and free the RF. He had said that WESCO and PHED authorities will be asked to disconnect services as they were illegal with the land belonging to the Forest department.

But after failing to take any action for a year, the Divisional Forest Officer of Sambalpur Santosh Joshi said that a survey would be launched to ascertain the encroachment status. Presently, the thatched houses have been converted into houses with asbestos and RCC roof while some have constructed overhead water tanks on the roof of their house besides choking the natural water channels of the hill which pose danger to the ecosystem.