Tag Archives: Sambalpur Municipality

Men call shots in women wards of Sambalpur

The State Government’s bid to empower women by involving them in decision making process of governance seems to have been derailed in Sambalpur district.

After the Government reserved 50 per cent of seats in rural as well as urban local bodies, women have come forward to file nominations. But it is their male relatives who are calling the shots in the entire election process.

Starting from availing tickets to campaigning and other election activities, either the husbands or other male relatives of the contestants are managing things making voters wonder who is the actual candidate. In Ward numbers 2, 4, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 27 of Sambalpur municipality, husbands of the women councillors act on their behalf. After the election, people rarely see the women councillors in any public platform. They remain present only at municipal council meetings to put their signatures.

Sources said in most cases, the male dominance starts from the process of selection of candidates. The husbands or sons of women candidates lobby for tickets. In many cases, there is hardly any interaction between women candidates and party leaders.

Officially, Ward no 2 is represented by Rashmita Acharya, Ward 4 by Ditptimayee Barik, Ward 20 by Anita Meher, Ward 22 by Shakuntala Satnami, Ward 22 by Lakshmi Bhoi, Ward 26 by Nitu Sahu and Ward 27 by Suryakanti Nayak. But these councillors are hardly found in the Municipality office or in their wards. While Rashmita, Diptimayee, Lakshmi, Nitu and Suryakanti are represented by their husbands Jaga Acharya, Suryanarayan Barik, Dilip Bhoi, Santosh Sahu and Umesh Nayak respectively, two other Councillors Anita and Shakuntala are represented by their brothers-in-law Chandra Meher and Banmali Satnami respectively.

This time, Wards 1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 22 of the total 29 Wards in the municipality are reserved for general caste women, Wards 2, 5, 13, 14 for backward class women, Wards 17 and 26 for SC women while Wards 27 and 29 are reserved for ST women.

Housing scheme moves at snail’s pace

It has been five years since the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) was launched in Sambalpur to improve the condition of the slum dwellers. But the programme has failed to make any impact till now.

Although 613 BPL families were identified under the scheme, only 101 houses have been completed so far while 138 houses are in different stages of completion.

Initially, each beneficiary was sanctioned `80,000 which was later raised to `1.20 lakh under the scheme. Sources said the local municipality had received `6.13 crore for implementation of the scheme in the beginning. As it did not make much headway in implementation of the programme, the work was entrusted to an NGO, Biswa.

While the NGO was directed to construct 239 houses, it could complete 101 houses. Subsequently, work order of the NGO was cancelled by then collector Mrinalini Darswal in 2011 following controversies.

As the situation stands today, construction of houses under the programme is underway in 24 slums across 14 wards in Sambalpur municipality. Although the Municipality claims that 15 houses have been completed in Harijan Pada of Bhatra in Ward No-1, only five houses have been completed. Municipal Engineer Basanta Padhy said individual work orders have been issued to beneficiaries to ensure early completion of houses.

Sambalpur takes first step on slum-free drive

In a bid to make Sambalpur town slum-free, Sambalpur Municipality has taken first step by seeking Request For Proposal (RFP) from NGOs for participating in implementation of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) in the town.

The municipal authority published notification in this regard on Thursday following which the interested NGOs can apply for the same on or before August 1, 2013.

The Municipality has also sought RPF for socio-economic survey of households in slum areas of the town besides setting up a technical cell for urban housing for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Lower Income Group under RAY.

The State Government had earlier directed the Collectors to initiate action to free at least six cities including Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Berhampur and Puri of slums.

Under Centre-funded RAY, slum dwellers will be provided affordable housing colonies having all basic civic amenities.

There are a total of 168 slums in the district including 103 under Sambalpur Municipal limits, 32 and 33 in Burla and Hirakud NAC respectively.

A survey undertaken by Gujarat Industrial and Technical Consultancy Organisation for preparing a Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for Greater Sambalpur has revealed that 66 per cent of the slums in Sambalpur are located along the main road while 24 per cent are situated near nullahs, seven per cent along the railway tracks while three per cent of the slums exist on the hill slopes.

In the absence of any residential plan, migrants have settled in several unauthorised slums without regular water supply, sewerage connections and basic amenities. The municipal authorities claimed that slums would be developed in a planned manner under the RAY.

Municipal Engineer Basanta Kumar Padhy said after NGOs for the work are shortlisted, Detailed Project Report (DPR) will be prepared and cost of housing calculated.

If a particular slum is found suitable, houses under RAY will be constructed there itself or else it will be relocated, he added.

Under the Yojana, 80 per cent of the fund will be provided by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, 10 per cent by the State Government while the beneficiaries have to contribute 10 per cent, said Padhy.

From recreation destination to haven of anti-socials

When the Ramsagar tank was renovated and developed into a boating club by the Sambalpur Municipality in July 2003, it was appreciated by one and all.

Developed from the MPLAD fund of the then Rajya Sabha member Sanatan Bisi at the initiative of then Collector Santosh Sarangi, the boating club emerged a major recreation destination within the town limits.

Having 15 paddle boats, the entry fee to the club was Rs 2 and a boat ride came for Rs 5 per head. Things went on smoothly for about five years.

But continuous apathy of the Municipality eventually took its toll on the club and what remains today is a stinking water tank filled with leaves of lotus flower and boats dumped both inside and outside the water.

It has become a safe haven for anti-social elements in absence of lighting and the embankment is used for open defecation. The Rs 25 lakh spent for development of the boating has flowed down the drain.

Although attempt was made by the last Chairperson of the Municipality Reena Trivedi to revive it and repair work of boundary wall and lighting was initiated, it had to be stopped after fellow councillors cried foul over the tender.

As the situation stands today, garbage is dumped all along the boundary of the tank spread over about 10 acres and more than anything else, cleaning the tank and the water has become important, at least to save the oldest traditional water harvesting structure of the town.

Chairperson of Sambalpur Municipality Kalpana Sahu said a fresh allotment of Rs 25 lakh has been received by the Municipality for development of a new boating club. Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development has been requested to accord sanction to spend the amount in the Ramsagar boating club to revive it.

Polluted Mahanadi raises health risk

Considered lifeline of Sambalpur town with at least 50,000 people depending on it, pollution is finally taking its toll on river Mahanadi.

With 86 per cent of the catchments and major tributaries of the river upstream located in industrial towns in the neighbouring States of Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, the water carries considerable pollution load to the reservoir. But the story does not end here.

With restricted inflow of water from the Hirakud reservoir, the river has become a big drain for Sambalpur town resulting in the Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in the river reaching an alarming stage.

As a result, it has been classified as category ‘D’ by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB). Thus the water is unfit for even human use and threatens aquatic life due to the decline in BOD.

To make things worse, even the garbage of the town is dumped on the banks of the river and with waste water being released at 11 points, it is obvious for the water getting unfit for human use even for daily chores.

Sambalpur being an old town, the sewerage and drainage system is almost non-existent here. Unless treatment of waste water is done before being discharged into the river, there is little hope of the water quality being improved.

It was hoped that things would improve after implementation of the ` 300 crore project for treatment of sewerage and disposal of waste water which was supposed to be undertaken by Orissa Sewerage Board with finance from Japan Bank of International Cooperation. But, the project remains a distant dream.

The fact that SPCB has filed a criminal case in the Court of Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Sambalpur in October 2010 urging to take cognisance of negligence of Executive Officer of Sambalpur Municipality in handling solid waste speaks volumes about the future of the river. The SPCB had even withdrawn the solid waste management authorisation from the Sambalpur Municipality.

Sources in SPCB said consumption of Mahanadi water upto a stretch of five to six kilometres adjacent to Sambalpur town could lead to different skin diseases and stomach disorder.

Contacted, Convenor of Water Initiative, Odisha Ranjan Panda said about 100-150 million litres of untreated sewage is entering the river at many points. Until the sewarage treatment project is implemented, Sambalpur cannot hope for a clean Mahanadi.