By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Aug 5: The construction works of the aerial rope-way project undertaken by the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) connecting Guwahati city and North Guwahati via Urvashi Island area have come to a halt following the objection of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).
The construction works of the Rs 32-crore project started in 2009 after the GMDA received a go ahead from the Environment Ministry and the Inland Waterways Authority. The ASI also gave its nod for the construction of the rope-way.
But problem cropped up when the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act was passed in 2010. The very Act says that no construction works be undertaken within 300 metres area of the centrally protected monuments/sites.
The rope-way project aims to serve twin objectives of boosting tourism and reducing the travel time between the North and South banks of the Brahmaputra. Currently, the banks can be reached only through road or ferry boat service.
GMDA sources said a key pillar of the rope-way would fall within 230 metres of Urvashi Island and the ASI had objected to it citing the provisions of the Ancient Monuments Act. “Following the ASI pressure, the construction works of the project have been suspended since February 2011,” said the GMDA sources.
Supporting the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010, Director of Archeology, Assam, Dr HN Dutta said like Urvashi Island, Umananda Island was also an archeologically protected site. According to Dutta, the GMDA had also breached its building by-laws while constructing the rope-way.
The GMDA sources said the GMDA had forced to change its rope-way construction plan due to the Ancient Monuments Act. But the GMDA sources maintained that there was no problem in the construction of the key pillar on Umananda Island as the pillar would not cast any impact on the beauty of the river island.
Meanwhile, the GMDA submitted around Rs 50 crore new project proposal for the rope-way to the State Government for its clearance and a committee has been formed by the government headed by Additional Chief Secretary J Khosla to look into the implementation of the much-hyped project.
The GMDA has estimated that approximately 250 passengers can be ferried per hour through the proposed rope-way.