BHUBANESWAR: B P Tripathy and his wife, a couple of senior citizens residing in BDA Colony, Chandrasekharpur, had a miraculous escape after the ceiling fan of their drawing room fell on them recently. This was, however, not a one off incident. Complaints of falling plasters and bricks, water dripping and seepage are common complaints for the residents of the colony, which was constructed during 1984-87.
Residents said over 80 per cent of the houses in the colony are in dilapidated condition and unsafe because of poor standard of construction, lack of repairs and maintenance for the last 25 years. Adding to their woes, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority allegedly issues demolition notices to anyone carrying out repairs or maintenance work.
After years of traumatic experiences, the residents had organized a public hearing to air their grievances last month. This made matters worse as the BDA authorities issued 100 demolition notices. "It seems only the enforcement squad of the BDA is functioning. Despite giving several written complaints and moving court several times, none of our grievances were heard by the civic authorities. Finally, we decided to organize a public hearing to vent out our grievances, but the BDA refused to attend it. We had sent a charter of 17 demands to the government and all civic functionaries, but things took a turn for the worse as more than 100 people received demolition notices after that," said D P Mishra, president of the Citizens' Committee.
According to the residents, the BDA authorities have not made any provisions for maintenance and repair of the common features of the buildings such as head rooms, staircases and roofs, which are badly damaged and have become weak and unsafe for the residents. "As per the Odisha Apartment Ownership Act-1982, the BDA should have formed a society, which would take care of maintenance and other facilities of the residents. But due to lack of any such mechanism no one is taking interest," said Ajit Dash, secretary of the Citizens' Committee.
Golak Bihari Pradhan, a resident of the colony and a retired engineer, said, "We are forced to sit with our umbrellas open inside our houses. Many valuable furniture and items have got damaged due to dripping of water from the ceiling and seepage in the walls."
Moreover, the colony with more than 10,000 residents lacks basic amenities such as children's park, post office, market complex, rest shed, ATM counter, banks and so on. Snatching, burglary and theft incidents reported almost everyday as there is no boundary wall and all colony houses are open to public, trespassers, hooligans and antisocial elements. Garbage disposal in the locality is in a mess as hips of garbage are dumped all around.
"The mayor promised us that at least he can solve the garbage disposal problem and it worked for a couple of days. After that, things went back to square one," said Soudamini Maharana, another resident.
The residents also alleged partiality by the authorities as a few houses handed over to National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD) have all facilities and BDA has allowed them to make all amenities but not for other residents.
"We have also paid equal amount of money and are also ready to pay but government is not doing anything for us. We don't have parking space even for two wheelers. We don't have 24 hour water supply and those who have installed overhead tanks were served with demolition notices," said working president of the Citizens' Committee Purnananda Mishra.
Kalapana Samal, counselor of the ward expressed her helplessness and said, "When the authorities are not listening to the court, will they listen to me. I have also made several representations to the BDA, but nothing is being done."
The civic authorities, however, defended their actions. BDA planning member P K Patnaik said, "The Odisha Apartment Ownership Act is very much in force and as per the act the residents of the colony should form a society for the maintenance of the colony. But surprisingly they want BDA to call them and form a society. Moreover, several residents have encroached on common land, which is not desirable. They are thinking the houses are provided by the BDA so it should be maintained by the BDA, which is not possible."
Secretary BDA Sreekant Kabi said, "BDA has decided to strengthen its regulatory authority so a large number of notices have been sent to those who have made illegal constructions. We would start a demolition drive soon."