Centuries back the kings of Odisha (Kalinga) and in recent period in early 20th century, Bhubaneswar was selected as the capital of the state because of its favorable location, natural beauty, soothing climate, availability of vast land space and abundant fresh water resources. When Bhubaneswar was selected as the capital of Odisha in 1936, it was full of green trees, natural forests with various wild animals, a large number of water bodies including scenic Bindu Sagar, Kedar Gouri, Ganguanala, Kuakhai and Daya rivers. It was then very much hoped that, Bhubaneswar would be an ideal planned capital with clean and beautiful environment besides it being glorified with unique arts and architectures of the old temples. Today, all those hopes to see Bhubaneswar as a beautiful and clean city have been shattered.
Bhubaneswar is now considered as a filthy city infested with all types of pollutants on its land and in water bodies and air. Some of the typical short comings of the city are as follows:
- Nearly 90% of trees and green fields have disappeared.
- Most of the water bodies particularly Kuakhai and Daya rivers and the sacred Bindusagar have been highly polluted. The Ganguanala once a natural fresh water body has been converted into a dirty sewage outlet to the rivers. Most of the wetlands have been replaced by multistoried buildings and commercial hubs. As a result, today the people living in Bhubaneswar get very low grade water for drinking and other domestic purposes and suffer from all types of water borne diseases.
- The city has developed in a very clumsy manner with random induction of slums, cowsheds etc. In addition to this, illegal encroachments in different parts of the city are very common feature.
- The uncontrolled filthy urban and commercial garbages are being accumulating in different parts of residential and market areas; the stray dogs and cattles further aggravate this polluting atmosphere and many times cause road accidents.
- The rapid increase in all types of vehicles on the road is polluting the atmosphere with poisonous exhaust gases, dust and carbon particles along with noise.
- Due to depletion of green trees and wetlands, climatically in recent past Bhubaneswar which never experienced a temperature more than 340C even in hottest summer, is today one of the hottest place in the state. In recent summers, the temperature goes up to 410C to 420 The frequent electricity cut which is a regular feature in Bhubaneswar, adds further sufferings to its residents.
In order to make this famous temple city a suitable capital of the state and the proposed ‘Smart City’, it is essential to solve the above mentioned problems in a serious and effective manner by suitably infusing modern science and technology. Some of such programmes are as follows:
- The garbage in residential and commercial areas should be collected systematically and processed at a couple of places away from the city, to recover the broken glasses, plastics and metal scraps and sell for recycling in their respective industries and the remaining solid organic wastes for producing compost and biogas. The idea of burning these organic wastes for producing electricity is not likely be economical and environment friendly.
- The sewage water including human excreta should similarly be processed at suitable sites away from the city and produce organic manures and biogas. The treated clean water from the sewage can be utilized for watering trees in the public parks and dedusting the road.
- Daya and Kuakhai rivers as well as Ganguanala should be kept away from solid wastes and the sewage water and their treated water can be supplied for drinking and other domestic purposes. More number of wetlands should be developed in and on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar for rain water harvesting to further increase the fresh water resources both on the surface and in the ground.
- Large number of trees should be planted on both sides of the roads instead of cementing all over as it has been and is being done in many places of the city. The barren and open areas belonging to the government should be converted into parks with massive plantation of trees etc. It may not be out of the way to state that, the National Laboratory, RRL, Bhubaneswar (presently known as IMMT) which I built as its Director practically starting from a barren area is today filled with dense green trees all over the campus causing a very soothing atmosphere. This should be practiced in other such public and private organizations to help in making Bhubaneswar green and cool.
- The slum dwellers at present in different parts of the city should be rehabilitated at suitable sites and should be facilitated to have a clean living from all respects.
- As the OMFED company has the capacity to supply the required milk for almost all the people in Bhubaneswar, the cows and cowsheds which are distributed all over the city, and creating a lot of nuisance, should be removed and if necessary these may be allowed to settle at a suitable place away from the city and can supply raw milk to OMFED or similar units for pasteurization, so that, all the people of Bhubaneswar will be privileged to have pasteurized milk and milk products.
- The public transport systems should be more organized and adequate law and order should be enforced so that people can move safely in any part of the city during the day and at night.
In these ways it will be possible to make Bhubaneswar a clean city and fit as the capital of Odisha and also a “Smart city”. Thereby the people in the city can lead an environment friendly, pleasant and healthy life and more tourists can be attracted to visit this temple city.