Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Monday came under fire from residents and opposition parties here who held the civic body responsible for constant neglect of open drains that claimed yet another life, Sunday.
After about 19 hours of frantic search, the Odisha Fire Service personnel Monday recovered the body of the 15-year-old boy who went missing after falling into a roadside open drain at Shatabdi Nagar in the state capital here, police said.
The 15-year old boy was swept away by storm water in Satabdi Nagar. After a massive search operation, his body was recovered at Panchashakha Nagar. The city has now witnessed seven deaths including three minors since 2015 after falling into open drains.
A nine-year-old boy had drowned in an open drain near Nayapalli. Two persons of Patia-Chandrasekharpur were found dead after they were washed away in a drain in 2017. In more recent tragedies, Hari Patnaik, a resident of Pichupadia Slum in Unit-VI, died after falling into an open drain in August 2018. A lady, 68, had drowned in an open drain near Ekamra Villa road in 2019.
“The BMC has become absolutely indifferent to the most important issues plaguing our city. It is quick to raise holding tax and fine citizens who violate norms,” said Suranjan Sahoo, a resident.
“Where has the money gone? Why do the drains continue to remain open? The death of a child in the open drain is disturbing and is the result of administrative apathy,” said Congress leader Narasingha Mishra. BJP’s Bhubaneswar president Babu Singh lodged a complaint at the Khandagiri police station against BMC Commissioner Sanjay Singh holding him responsible for the mishap. They demanded Rs1 crore compensation for the deceased boy. The BJP staged a dharna outside the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation office at 11am Monday.
The government had sanctioned Rs750 crore to the BMC for widening, covering, and de-silting of drains in the city. However, the civic body could de-silt only 383 km of its 625 km of drainage system leading to severe water-logging. The High Court in 2017 had directed the state government to ensure that no drain remained open. The government in June this year had issued a checklist to all ULBs directing them to install signages by open drains.
The BMC had identified about 37 vulnerable locations, but failed to follow the government’s guidelines. Meanwhile, Himanshu Sekhar Nayak, an activist, Monday moved the National Human Rights Commission seeking Rs 50 lakhs compensation for the kin of the deceased.