Expanding sand bed, concrete jungle behind rising mercury in Sonepur: Experts

Sonepur: Environmentalists have attributed the consistently high temperature in Sonepur town to vast stretches of sand in both the rivers and the fast developing concrete jungles in the town.

Despite being situated on the banks of Mahanadi and Tel rivers, temperature in the town has hovered between 45 and 46 degrees Celsius in the last few days. On April 27, Sonepur recorded the highest temperature in the State at 46.5 degrees Celsius. On April 15, 18 and 21, the mercury touched 45.8, 46 and 46.2 degrees Celsius respectively in this western Odisha town.

“We had not witnessed such a steep rise in temperature in the last few years. It is only because of the long stretches of dry riverbeds of Mahanadi and Tel, which reflect the heat as the day progresses resulting in increase in day temperature. Earlier, there used to be small patches of water across the riverbed which used to absorb the heat to some extent during peak hours. But, this has become a day dream today,” environmentalist Saroj Kumar Panigrahi said.

He argued that activities like rapid construction in and around the town in the past couple of years has added to the residents’ woes.

“There has to be construction for development of any habitation. But at the same time, greenery should be maintained for environmental equilibrium. Unfortunately, this aspect has been completely overlooked by the district administration, which has failed to pursuade people for plantation,” he noted.

Admitting that these factors are responsible for rise in the mercury level, the administration has assured to undertake plantation drive around the town in the rainy season.

“Our officials have been engaged to see that plants are watered regularly to withstand the gruelling heat. Besides, in the ensuing rainy season we are going to spend a major share of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA) for plantation and afforestation activities,” Sonepur Collector Dasarathi Satapathy said.