River Mahanadi, the nature’s gift to the state has been loosing its credibility because of the wrong planning and lack of foresight of the local body and government officials. The river’s water has become quite polluted over the past few years leaving it unhygienic for human consumption. The River that tempted many poets in the past for its natural beauty has become now the source of many water borne diseases. River Mahanadi is perhaps the only River that not only flows from western part to coastal part but it also creates a natural link between socio-culture traditions of two major parts of the state. Though every one of the state feels proud, no body is serious about the problem. Despite the devastation it causes during rainy season, it becomes the only source in the past for survival of the people leaving in many major towns located on its bank.
Sambalpur is one of the major towns of the state that appears after the river enters to the state crossing the boundary of the Chhattisgarh. The pollution of the river water starts right from Sambalpur as the garbage and sewage water of the town ends in the river water on various spots. Because of the contaminated water, the condition of the river becomes dangerous day by day. The river becomes full of dirt and water-plant making the water poisonous.
“Every one is aware of the situation but due to wrong planning and negligent attitude of the local body and water resources department, sewerage and drain water discharges into the river with out any treatment making the river water polluted. The situation becomes worst in Sambalpur during summer as people are left with no option to use the contaminated water because of the barrier (anicut) constructed at the end of the town to store river water” social activists Anil Kumar Padhi said.
According to him earlier Dam authority was discharging water on several occasions during summer to overflow the stagnant water stored at riverside, but dam authority stops discharging water during summer over the past few years apprehending shortage of water in reservoir.
Sources revealed that Sambalpur town was established on the bank of the river Mahanadi by than ruler of Chowhan dynasty. The water of river
Mahanadi was sufficient for the people of Sambalpur for their daily consumption. Before the construction of Hirakud dam the river was having flowing water round the year and there was no notable problem in Sambalpur as far as water scarcity is concern. But after the construction of Hirakud dam people of Sambalpur have encounter with water scarcity especially during summer season.
“We never experienced water scarcity during those days as we had sufficient water flowing in the river. In summer we had to go inside the river to get water. But it was totally clean water unlike today’s” 89 years old lady Saraswati Panda said.
Source said, scarcity of water was felt by the people of Sambalpur after construction of the Hirakud dam especially during summer season. So to mitigate the water problem government decided to construct a barrier at the end of the town to encircle the River Mahanadi at town side to create an artificial lack.
“Since then governor AN Khosla inaugurated the barrier cum anicut during 1960 the artificial lack was named after him as “Ajodhya Sorobor”. People became happy to get deep water round the year due to the anicut. In summer the water was overflowing once or twice to clean the dirt by discharging water from the dam. But it is not happening over the past few years because of shortage of water in the reservoir. Possibly after the decision of water sharing with the industrial houses”, eminent social activist and lawyer Govind Narayan Agrawal said.
The real problem started in Sambalpur after the decision to construct of a ring road cum embankment on the river side of the town to join the national highway on the both side by the congress government. The construction was started during 1996 but it was never become a complete-ring, because only 5 km could complete out of the proposed 18 km,.
“The project was never got completion because of wrong planning and negligent attitude of the officials. Because of the wrong planning of drainage people are left with no choice to discharge the drain water into river Mahanadi.”, activist Dilip Padhi said.
According to him town’s waste water and drainage water are discharged into river Mahanadi at Sadak ghat and Balibandha points directly with out having treatment as a result of which people are suffering from water borne disease by consuming the water. “There is a need of treatment of the waste water before it discharged into river Mahanadi we have been demanding it but it remains unheard because of the callousness of the government machinery’, Padhi added.
On the other hand the district administration has expressed helplessness over the situation. We have taken a note of it but unless a joint effort is not made it becomes difficult on out part to solve the problem”, collector Hemanta Kumar Dash said