Berhampur: The Berhampur Municipal Corporation (BeMC) has failed to use government sanctioned funds for reviving 42 ponds. Many water bodies are dying despite availability of funds, a report said.
The civic body failed to utilise the Rs 15 crore Central funds which it had received 12 years back for reviving water bodies. The revival of the 42 ponds is only halfway through and has not been completed.
Observers said the efficiency which the civic body needs to display in utilising funds was missing. In the last 12 years, only 25 ponds have been revived, while the rest of the water bodies are facing neglect.
The civic body is also going slow in utilising the Rs 2 crore World Bank funds for the development of roads, drains and slums which was allotted after cyclone Phailin.
The World Bank fund is being sanctioned in phases by the government, but the civic body has failed to live up to expectations.
Sources said that around Rs 2 crore is still lying with the civic body without being spent on pond revival works as the term of the elected council came to an end.
Meanwhile, the government has taken over the management of the civic body after the three-year term of the elected council expired in October 2018. The Ganjam Collector has been appointed as chief administrator of the civic body.
This has dashed all hopes of reviving the water bodies as elections to the civic body is mired in uncertainty.
Chandrasekhar Sahu was elected as MP from the Berhampur Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and became a minister in UPA-I government. After that Sahu took steps for reviving 42 ponds as the groundwater level in the city was falling by the day.
He sanctioned Rs 15 crore for reviving the ponds under the Centre’s water body scheme for small and medium urban infrastructure projects. While the Centre provided 80 per cent of the funds the rest were borne by the state and the BeMC.
The BJD wrested control over the civic body in the 2003 municipal elections and Sulochana Swain became its first woman chairperson. The funds were sanctioned to the civic body during her tenure in 2005-06. Pond revival work started very late as the BeMC could not identify ponds in time.
Later, revival works were taken up at Haridakhandi pond, Dhoba pond, Diamond tank, Ganesh pond, Boitalu pond, Bijipur pond, Sunari pond and Kamapalli pond.
Revival works started only in 36 ponds while six ponds including the Ramalingam pond and the pond near the Nilakantheswar temple were left out. This was due to the fact that the above ponds were in private hands.
The revival of ponds drew flak due to substandard works as the authorities handed over contracts to persons with strong political connections. Observers urged the government to intervene and ensure proper utilisation of the funds for reviving the water bodies.