On 13 September, instead of waking up in my bed, I woke up in a pool of filthy drain water.
I live in Das Sahi, Shankarpur that falls under the Badambadi area of Cuttack, which is a low-lying area. I have lived here for almost 20 years now.
For most of the people, rains bring joy and happiness, but for us it always comes as a source of concern. The heavy downpour entirely flooded the society I stay in. Overflowing drain water gushed into our home, submerging the bedroom, drawing room, kitchen, and garage.
My family and I were restrained to a single bedroom and we couldn't even move from one place to another.
We spent the entire day trying to keep ourselves afloat. We were on the bed that was half-flooded with water. My mother couldn't even prepare food for us as the kitchen was flooded too.
The drains here are not well maintained, as a result, it gets clogged easily and the waste material from the drains enter our house causing much inconvenience to all of us.
We have been dealing with this for several years now. The narrow roads and the shallow drains have added to our misery.
Residents in our neighbourhood who reside in two or three-story buildings had to relocate themselves to the top floors because the lower floors were submerged in water
"If the situation persists, people will have to use boats instead of vehicles on the road of Cuttack city."Abani Charan Das, Resident of Das Sahi
Left With No Food Due To Waterlogging
"I am unable to prepare food for my family since my kitchen is flooded due to the continuous rainfall. With water everywhere we cannot even move freely within our own house."Pranati Das, Resident of Das Sahi
The state government also declared a two-day holiday (13 and 14 September) in schools.
Reacting to the decision, Ayush Das, a Class 10 student, said, “After a long time, the schools were reopened, but due to the heavy rains, we cannot go to school. Our entire school area gets waterlogged and it takes at least 2-3 days for the water to recede from the campus.”
The water-logging also creates problems for many vendors in my area.
"I haven't been able to sell my vegetables in the market. We, sabziwalas (vegetable vendors), completely rely on our daily earnings. I can't leave my house because of the flooding."Ramesh Sahoo, Vegetable seller
Despite Multiple Complaints, No Action Has Been Taken Yet
Residents from our area registered numerous complaints about the issue over the years, but the municipal corporation has taken no concrete action.
Blaming the municipality body for it's failure to deal with such incidence, Bholanath Das, resident of Mahanadi Vihar, said, “The Cuttack Municipal Corporation (CMC) keeps making claims that drain cleaning work in the city is being carried out regularly. But waterlogging after rain for only one hour shows that no concrete measures were undertaken by the authorities.”
Left with no option, we try to drain out water from our houses manually, but it's proving to be a futile exercise.
I came across a few media reports that stated that the Cuttack Municipal Corporation officials have deployed over 220 dewatering pump sets and activated the 100 HP Khannagar pumping station to drain out rainwater.
The civic body’s officials said the sluice gates at Matrubhawan, Khannagar and Jobra were opened to drain out excess water from the city.
However, the process of draining out rain water was hampered as several pump sets developed snags. Clogged drains only made the matters worse for the civic body.
On Tuesaday, 14 September, I read an article published in The New Indian Express in which CMC Commissioner Ananya Das said that the civic body personnel are using dewatering pump sets but are facing issues while clearing excess water from low-lying areas due to heavy rains.
“Though rain water is flowing out of the affected areas, the inflow too is high,” she said, adding the situation would improve once the rains subside.
Though the CMC Officials have claimed to have deployed over 220 dewatering pump sets, in our locality we did not get any support from the CMC.
We have to remove water manually with the help of mug and buckets. No pump sets have been deployed in our area.
In the current scenario, while the situation in our locality is now steady, this is not the case in various parts of the city. Many parts of the city still remain waterlogged, even after two days of rain.
Back in 2013, Odisha Government along with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) started a project called “JICA Project” which was funded under Odisha Integrated Sanitation Improvement Project (OISIP).
When the project began in 2013, we were being told that it will be completed by 2015.
The major objective of the project is to improve the city's drainage and sewerage infrastructure in order to address the waterlogging problem.
But unfortunately, lack of proper planning and coordination has resulted in nothing being done yet.
Project JICA: A Bane for Cuttack
Somehow, the project JICA has turned out to be a bane for us as it has done nothing but added to the problems of the locals living there.
Over the last eight years, road construction work has been carried out as part of the project in various parts of the city. The construction workers began their work in a particular location but could not complete it for several years. The unfinished work lead to the poor condition of the roads resulting in several accidents over the years.
The uneven road also lead to stagnation of rain water. It created problems for the regular commuters. Also, a lot of time, the leakage of the sewerage pipelines were reported.
"I have given up all my hopes in the JICA project. I don't believe it will ever be finished. All that glitters isn't gold, and the JICA project proves this to me. The ambitious project started well, but eventually fizzled out. Despite bringing relief, it added misery in our life."Abani Charan Das, Cuttack resident
In 2020, an Orissa High Court bench led by then-chief justice Mohammad Rafiq also expressed their disappointment over the CMC’s handling of JICA project.
However CMC, and all the other concerned authorities have said, by the end of 2022 they are expecting the project work to be completed.
The Quint reached out to Cuttack Municipal Corporation but there has been no response. As soon as they reply, the story will be updated.
(The author is a graduate in BSc in Agriculture. All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)