Even as the tragic death of a 15-year-old boy after being swept away in an open drain in Shatabdi Nagar of Bhubaneswar triggered massive uproar, several uncovered drains, sewer manholes and ditches continued to pose serious threats to the commuters in the capital city.
The open manholes and ditches on the roads seem to have turned into death traps for commuters. Besides, alleged shoddy sewerage works have added to the woes of the commuters.
A few days earlier, heavy rain lashed the Capital City swelling the water level on the roads and sewerage creating waterlogging in low-lying areas. It became difficult for commuters to identify manholes or big ditches on the water-logged roads.
An open manhole on the road connecting the national highway to AIIMS became a major cause of concern. To aware the commuters of the probable threats, some good Samaritans put up a red bag over the manhole. However, a bike rider stumbled on the road filled with ditches near the manhole and was rescued by some school students.
"We get scared while crossing this road. While returning from school, we found a person stuck in the midst of the road as his vehicle went into a ditch and helped him," said one of the school students.
On the other side of the Smart City, an open manhole in the middle of the road in front of the DCP office has raised the eyebrows of many as there is a private hospital in the vicinity. After the rain receded, locals have put tree branches over the manhole to alert the commuters. However, the administration seems to have closed its eyes without taking any action.
"This road seems like a village road and not in the Smart City. The open manhole is creating traffic congestion too," said a local resident.
The situation is no different on Bhubaneswar-Cuttack road near Ekamra hall where a huge ditch on the roadside has become a 'death trap' for commuters. Several commuters have suffered injuries after falling into the ditch. Locals have alleged sub-standard road quality as the reason for which the ditch that developed 15 days earlier is getting deeper and wider with each passing day.
"People coming from other areas are unaware of this ditch and it is likely for them to fall into it. Responsible officials are not paying a heed to it for which we have put tree branches over it to alert the commuters," said Seikh Manjur, a local businessman.
The plight doesn't end here. Several big ditches have been identified near Esplanade and interconnecting road to Saheed Nagar from Bomikhal. Multiple accidents have been reported in these areas, but no action has been taken by the administration.
People have been giving personal efforts by putting concrete slabs, tree branches or bricks to alert the commuters and prevent accidents.
"Every time after heavy rainfall, these roads get flooded with water and it becomes difficult to identify these holes causing accidents. Smart city roads get filled with water creating threats for everyone. How can we call it a smart city?" questioned Chandan Jagdev, a local resident.
Moreover, delay in sewerage construction works in different locations of Bhubaneswar, which continues for several months, is adding to the plight of the commuters.
Currently, sewerage construction works in Bhubaneswar are undertaken by Water Corporation of Odisha Limited (WATCO). Though the WATCO has set up a 24 X 7 maintenance cell at the smart city office, execution of the works by it across Bhubaneswar has raised several questions.
When asked about the inordinate delay in the works, WATCO authority refused to comment.
However, residents of the smart city stare at an uncertain future even after the tragic incidents of Jyoti and Pupun in the death traps of open drains, manholes and ditches.
(Edited By Ramakant Biswas)