Water-logging up to a depth of four feet poses new problems, sanitation being the major

The recent Cyclone Phailin and the incessant rain for the last three days have put the rich and the poor on an equal footing, if the condition of the people in Nilanchal Nagar, a posh locality in the city, is any indication.

The whole locality is affected by water-logging and around 4-ft-deep water is flowing in the area.

On Thursday, relief material such as food packets and water pouches was transported and distributed in the area using boats by the Fire Services Department.

Most of the inhabitants, especially women and children, have not been able to come out of their houses since Wednesday. Most of them have been taking shelter either on the terrace or upper floors. Several inhabitants of the locality had to be evacuated or forced leave their houses on their own. The ground floor of most of the houses is water-logged.

Sasmita Sahu, a resident, said they did not have drinking water or candles, and it was impossible to come out of the house due to heavy water flow in the area.

Sanitation is posing a major problem in the area as septic tanks and drainage system of the houses getting submerged under water.

“We cannot flush our toilets and water is not flowing out from the drains of our houses as the whole area is water-logged. Though we live in pucca houses, the conditions prevailing resemble that of a slum area,” rue residents.

Berhampur MLA R.C.C. Patnaik, Gopalpur MLA Pradeep Panigrahy, Mayor K. Madhavi, Revenue Divisional Commissioner Bikash Mohapatra visited the area to monitor the rescue and relief operations.

People of the locality demanded that measures be initiated on a war-footing to solve the problem in Nilanchal Nagar.

“Bahana Nala, a major canal that carries water from the city limits to the outskirts, passes through this low-laying area. Urbanisation and construction of huge buildings have stopped the natural water flow channels. It is this reason that is behind flooding of the area,” said Mr. Patnaik.

The MLAs promised that the height of a major culvert over the Bahana Nala would be increased by three-and-half metres to enable free flow of water.

“Once the rain stops and water recedes, the plight of people of the posh area would end. But that will not be the situation for people living in cyclone-hit slums.”

Markand Mahakuda, a resident of a slum near Dhoba Bandha, which was also affected by the continuous rain, said, “I am worried that the walls of makeshift houses will weaken. Rains have reduced the scope of proper disposal of human excreta in slum areas, making them prone to water-borne diseases.