Staff Reporter

BHUBANESWAR: Daya canal, the major water body that help recharge groundwater in the capital city, is slowly becoming shallow over decades due to mindless discharge of urban wastes into the water channel.

During the peak summer this year, residents of many habitations depending on groundwater in Bhubaneswar felt the pinch as water level had fallen drastically.

Situation came to such a pass that people were depending on frequent release water into the channel by irrigation department so that they could meet the demand of water. Colonies those experienced severe water scarcity this year were Bhimatangi, Sriramnagar, Lingarajnagar and Mahatab Road.

Wastes and drain water were released unchecked to the Daya Canal (West) at Jharpada and Tankpani Road area. According to irrigation department, the total length of the canal is 34.86 km and it touched several populated areas such as Palasuni, Rasulgarh, Laxmisagar, Badagada, Tankapani Road and Sundarpada.

Biggest problem

The canal which was created primarily for irrigation purpose has virtually become a big drain that pass through the city. Since 1965, no major renovation work was taken up. As a result, siltation emerged as the biggest problem. It causes heavy obstruction in groundwater recharging. Further, it hampered its self-purification mechanism.

“Siltation leads to eutrophication (a process of NPK enrichment of water body thus leading to growth of more water hyacinth). The water found is highly polluted with high load of Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and coliforms,” says Himansu Patra, who worked with an environment pressure group.

Mr. Patra says the problem is multi-dimensional. While on the one hand there was problem of groundwater contamination and on the other hand population depending upon the canal water run the risk of epidemic like cholera in rainy season, he says.

Irrigation department spends Rs. 2 lakh annually on widening the water channel temporarily. Residents demanded that the canal should not be converted into a drain and irrigation department and Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) should find a wayout to the problem.