Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The drain mishap in the Odisha Capital city on Sunday which has apparently claimed the life of a 15-year-old boy has reopened old wounds.

Looking back the incidents from the death of nine-year-old student Pupun Biswal from Behera Sahi area in Nayapali, who was washed away in an open drain on August 26, 2015, to the untimely loss of a home tutor in 2017 in a similar mishap series of such accidents in Bhubaneswar over the past few years bear striking testimony to the claim how storm drains are posing grave threats to commuters and increasingly turning into death traps for many in Odisha's Smart City.

A child was also killed in a similar accident in 2018 while an elderly woman also had to lose her life after falling into a stormwater channel in 2019.

And now the recent death of Jyotirmay Behera (15) a 10th class student from Palamamnda area near Baramunda in the Capital city seemed to be the final nail in the coffin.

The latest mishap which happened in a large drain near Satabdi Nagar Bank Colony in Siripur area, testifies the utter neglect on the part of the civic authorities in ensuring proper drainage facilities for the residents in the State Capital city.

Sources said, Bhubaneswar has a stretch of around 800 km long drain including main and sub drains and though there has been an increase in road accidents and deaths due to the open drains, the Opposition political parties alleged that Odisha government and civic authorities of the smart city have apparently remained indifferent to the grave issue.

Peeved at the fresh mishap, the BJP, Congress and local residents of Bhubaneswar on Sunday staged a massive protest at Gandamunda square and blamed the careless and lackadaisical attitude of the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) authorities for the accident.

Road communication in the area came to a grinding halt as hundreds of Congress activists took to the streets shouting slogans against the government.

“BJD government has done nothing for the development of Bhubaneswar in their 21-years of rule. Drains at several areas of the Capital city have been left open which make them dangerous for the denizens during rainy season. Many people have been swept away in the flooded drains. But the State government seems to be in oblivion about the plight of the people,” said senior Congress leader Sura Routray.

“We will file criminal complaints against the BMC authorities and the concerned officials and minister for their utter neglect to cover the drains with slabs. Had the drains been properly covered, precious lives would have been saved. Odisha government has failed to protect the lives of Bhubaneswar residents,” said Babu Singh, Bhubaneswar BJP President.

Meanwhile, Ekamra MLA Ashok Panda assured that the drain works especially the stretch of the sewer where the accident occurred will start soon.

“The incident is quiet unfortunate. The family has lost their child, we can’t give back his life. However, the budget for the drain at Lane No.7 has been approved and the work will be undertaken soon,” said Panda.