BHUBANESWAR: A Saheed Nagar address is among the most sought after and costliest in the city. Anybody who owns a house here is a millionaire because of the high real estate price. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to access basic amenities like power, road and water in the locality, dominated by prominent retired bureaucrats, several politicians and business families.
Bound by the NH 5 and Satya Nagar on the western and eastern sides respectively and Janpath-railway track on the southern-northern directions, Saheed Nagar was originally planned for 5,000 people. But at present, 30,000 people live in the area that witnesses a footfall of around 20,000 because of the offices and markets. The serenity of a residential area is vanishing by the day because of the commercial properties, said local corporator Umanath Mishra.
Originally planned for big residential bungalows sprawling over an average 0.1 acre, the area has become more of an office-cum-shop complex. With real estate price is shooting up, many people are tying up with builders to convert their houses into apartments, putting an extra load on the already fledging civic infrastructure. There are around 150 residential plots of 0.1 acre size in the area. Though government price is around Rs 8 crore per acre, the market price is around Rs 12 crore per acre with no plots valued below Rs 1 crore. Several hotels, showrooms and offices have come up in the area, choking the infrastructure.
"The water and sewer network built in 1960s is not ready to tackle the extra load. Water scarcity is worsening by the day," said Debendra Mishra, former state election commissioner, who resides in the area. The local corporator agreed with Mishra. "The sewer lines get chocked every now and then. Though these are cleared through the 2,000 manholes frequently, the garbage is mostly not lifted. It gets littered on the roads. I have raised this issue with the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) several times," said Umanath.
He said even the conservancy lanes have been spoiled. Despite cleaning these several times, residents and commercial establishments are indiscriminately dumping waste in these lanes. Tripping of power supply is also common because of the undue load, the corporator added. With public health and engineering department (PHED) pipe supply water getting scarce, people are increasingly relying on deep bore wells, resulting in receding of the water table.
People are very upset with the Cineplex coming up in the area. BMC in partnership with a private party has been constructing a five-storied shopping, office, residential and cineplex structure on a 6 lakh sq ft area. It would house corporate offices, shopping malls, retail outlets and residential apartments. "Instead of defacing the old localities, city planners should look for virgin areas to plan vertical structures where roads, sewer lines and power infrastructure can be made available accordingly," said Piyush Rout, a consultant in urban management.
The condition of roads are equally bad. A case in point is the road from plot no.I to the ESI Hospital, one of the major inner roads, that has been lying dug up because of the ongoing sewer work for around two years. "This road has become very accident-prone," said Dr Arabinda Mohanty, president of the Saheed Nagar Socio-Cultural Society, an association of residents. Among others, the road in front of Mayur Bhawan, office of director of Nandankanan Biological Park, is invariably water-logged.
Mohanty, who is a paediatrician, drew attention towards the insufficient healthcare facilities in the area. "There is no government-run facility to cater to medical emergency. The Saheed Nagar zonal dispensary should be strengthened to make it a full-fledged hospital with regular staff," he said. Dr Mohanty said many retired couples are settled in Saheed Nagar while their children stay in other cities. But there is no dedicated healthcare facility for them though Saheednagar has some good private hospitals.
The area has a slum population of around 2,000 people, who mostly reside near the Vani Vihar railway station. "Steps should be taken to refurbish the look of the station. Though it lies right next to residential area, it is in a bad shape because of encroachments. These should be removed," said Naresh Mitra, a resident of the area.