the last decade, Orissa has been experiencing extreme heat during the
summer. Every year, hundreds of people have been falling victims to
sunstroke and heat wave. But the state government is yet to be serious
to tackle the issue and bring down the number of deaths due to extreme
heat if not able to prevent it. The departments only come up with loud
announcement of measures like distribution of water in public places and
lots of advices for people on what to do to beat the heat in summer.
It’s not only a few temporary relief measures but long term action plan
is required to reduce the number of death and minimize the level of
discomfort that nature causes to people of the state in the summer.
bodies disappearing too fast
of the cities, need of houses matching the growth of population demands
more space for housing. Inspired by this fact and allured by the
promises in real estate business, water bodies are being filled up by
the builders and soon a pond is developed for construction of houses and
apartments. That’s why, ‘Dotted more closely once upon a time, almost
all the water bodies in the filigree city of Cuttack are filled up by
people and real estate dealers to raise simplex, duplex and apartments.
Once known to be a swampy city with ample free space, Cuttack has now
become a dense concrete jungle’, said Subhransu Mohanty – a TV Producer
and communication consultant from the city of Cuttack. In fact, the
natural elements like water bodies, orchards and green cover have been
destroyed in the cities in the name of development and expansion.
the situation in Bhubaneswar. Even though the city has less number of
water bodies in compare to Cuttack, most of them are now past as all
have been grabbed by land mafias in connivance with revenue officials.
Now big apartments and housing projects are raised on those places where
once a pond was there. Not only in Bhubaneswar, water bodies are
disappearing fast even in the outskirts where the city is expanding.
Looking at the growing land price, people of outskirt villages are also
into filling up of village ponds and converting them into housing lands.
‘The ponds or water bodies which were individual or private properties
have faced such a fate. Not those which are recorded by revenue
department. And, you can’t tell someone to stop from doing this because
he needs money and the pond is valueless unless it is filled and
converted to housing land. People in outskirt villages are allured by
the money they are offered for land. So, why they would think of
conserving a pond that is useless for them? It depends on our civic
responsibility. But, again, you can’t impose it on poor villagers and
people who are in need of money for their development’, said a leading
infrastructure leasing and development consultant of Bhubaneswar Tarun
cities like Berhampur and Sambalpur are also facing the same fate. As,
there is a law prohibiting water bodies to use for housing, the ponds
are initially used as garbage dumping places and later, once it becomes
incapable of carrying water, they are being used for housing purpose.
This practice has picked up more speed since real estate business has
picked up in the state of Orissa.
including the government housing agencies bother for the far reaching
impact of such practice. Many of the government housing projects are
raised on low land areas that once carried huge water bodies.
and Mines burning
Deforestation due to industrialization and mining are being discussed as
reasons for temperature rise. Apart from large scale deforestation for
mining and industrialization, there have been huge patches of forests
set on fire by local people. Now, even timber mafias are promoting this
for their own purpose. Recently, there was widespread fire in Simlipal
reserve forests. The forests of Keonjhar are facing the same fate. A
month back, while travelling along the forests of Keonjhar, I found
kilometer long fire lines in the forests at many places. Nobody bothers
to stop it. The forest department doesn’t work to extinguish the fire.
It rather sits calm just by shifting the blame to the tribal people.
the situation in coal reserve areas. Angul and Jharsuguda are the two
districts having huge coal reserves and open cast coal mines. Every
year, the coal mines catch fire in the summer and keep on burning for a
longer period which again adds to the atmospheric temperature to make
both the districts reel under heat wave.
City sees Green in Grass and Cactus
year the heat is crucial to people in the capital because hundreds of
trees have been felled by the government itself in the name of
beautification and widening of the roads in the capital city. Instead of
planting saplings before cutting the trees, government has just been
irresponsive to the law and no plantation work has been taken up yet.
There is no tree where someone can take rest for a while. Rather, the
city looks for green in the decorative grass and cactus plants on the
roadside. It seems, the havoc of heat across the state including capital
city Bhubaneswar is a creation by the government itself.
development is required. We need our cities to be beautiful and the
roads be widened. We can’t stop that. But, we can’t also ruin the
environment and let the cities burn like this in the summer. It’s not
only the government, but people should also contribute to the
conservation of environment. If deforestation is required in the city
for development works, we must create forests and required water bodies
in the outskirts’, says Tarun Barik.
So, in order to deal with the problem of rising temperature across the
state, the government must have a long term vision and planning than
just taking a few relief measures during the summer only. A balance
between development or concretization and environment conservation has
to be worked out. Otherwise, in a few years, the issue will gather more
strength and summer will come with a spell of disaster in the state of