Age-old 'unaddressed' issues continue to haunt the residents of Balasore Municipality. But with the Odisha urban polls round the corner, can these problems be resolved? Though one can expect it to happen, the electors contradict.
Residents of Balasore, one of the oldest municipalities in Odisha, said that several elections came and went but their problems have remained static. The municipality, which came into existence in 1876, has a total of 31 Wards and a population of around 3 lakh along with a slew of issues being allegedly pushed to the back burner since long.
Residents of the Municipality, especially of those living in Ward no 12, 18, 22, 23 and 29 usually have a harrowing time during rains when water flow into Budhabalanga River rises. The residents have to suffer a lot due to waterlogging. To address the longing issue, though the dream of a Ring Road was shown to the residents five years ago, it is yet to meet the reality and remained on pen and papers only.
Gobinda Chandra Nayak, a resident of Ward no 23, said, "As our Ward is in a low-lying area, we witness flood 2-3 times every year. Besides, we don't have basic amenities like road and drainage system."
A serpentine queue of women is seen every night in Damodarpur of Ward no 12 to fetch drinking water. Around 3 years ago, Balasore was included into the AMRUT yojana and the Odisha government had assured that people would no more face the water shortage issue. But, the reality talks volumes about what is being said and done so far.
Another issue that has gripped Balasore Municipality is house to slum dwellers. Though in 2018 the slum dwellers were given land rights certificate under the State government's JAGA Mission, the beneficiaries are yet to get land.
Now, all these alleged issues are going to give a tough challenge to candidates from all major political parties, especially the BJD which is in power in the municipality where the chairperson seat has been reserved for woman candidate.
While the BJD chairperson candidate Sabita Sahoo is trying to pacify voters stating that she will work for the all-round development of the municipality, Congress candidate Pragyan Parimiti Biswal has targeted the State government for not fulfilling its Corporation status promise to Balasore ahead of the urban polls.
Similarly, BJP candidate Rashmirekha Deb is reaching out to people and promising them to take up road construction and renovation, improvement of drainage system and completion of Ring Road project if she is voted to power. “Only a blue print of the Ring Road was prepared ahead of election to woo voters, but no DPR or project has been prepared till date,” she claimed.