By Prafulla Dowarah
Guwahati city wears an amazing look with the mighty river Brahmaputra flowing vibrantly by its side. Once, there was a time when it was almost surrounded by lush green hills. Now, the hills are the living testimony of modern men’s cruelty to ture. The ancient me of Guwahati was “Pragjyotishpur”. It also reminds of the great battle of Sarighat fought in 1671, between Assamese soldiers and the Mugals, where Mugals were decimated thoroughly by the Assamese soldiers under the great leadership of Lachit Barphukon. There are many things in store in the pages of history to tell about Guwahati. In the present situation, Guwahati occupies strategically important position in the NE. Firstly, Guwahati is the gateway to North East. Secondly, it is the capital and biggest city in the North East. Thirdly, it is the hub of education, health, commerce and business, culture, tourism, politics, and well connected to the other parts of the country. Fourthly, it is famous for Kamakhya temple.
However, we are sadden and dismayed to see the plight of Guwahati, despite having all the accolades to its credit, when the amazing transformations are taking place in various cities around the country. Guwahati is afflicted by issues like untural flood, bad draige, rrow roads, unsafe foot paths, unmaged vehicular traffic, bad city buses, non-existent of public toilet, lack of hygiene, law and order problem to me a few.
Untural flood and bad draige: A small shower makes Guwahati to reel under flood water. Unplanned construction of buildings is the roots cause of all the ills. If approach road, proper storm water drain, sewer system and other facilities are made before any actual construction is started then there is no way to inundate any place in Guwahati even in a continuous downpour. However, methods of doing things are quite opposite in the prevailing situation. Roads and drains are made only when adequate spaces are left out after buildings are constructed. It is also a fact that, many people had encroached the tural drains and rivers. Some even blocked the existing drains. Eighty percent people, if not more, still throw all the wastes and garbage’s to the drains and rivers and thereby clogged the storm water to reach its destition. Until a well engineered overall draige network system is developed, this untural flood problem would persist. rrow roads: Width of Guwahati roads are extremely less to take care of ever increasing traffic load. Parking space is awfully idequate. The roads widths are further squeezed by making ramps to facilitate movement of vehicles to hotels, shops, malls and other establishments without let or hindrance. There are ways to make proper approach without disturbing the roads. Only application of mind and effort is required. Footpaths under seize: Only pedestrians feel the pain and pang to walk on the foot paths of Guwahati. It may be comparatively safer to walk along the extreme side of the main road than to walk on the foot paths. One, the foot paths are made with uneven slabs having lifting lugs therein, projected outside dangerously. Two, it is mostly been occupied by petty vendors like tea, vegetable, car repairing garages etc. Three, without an iota of guilt and fear the people made it a practice to park scooters and even cars on the foot paths. Four, to make their way easy, the scooters /motor cyclist drive their two wheelers on the footpaths. Moreover, the service lanes provided along the tiol Highway-37, within the city are, being used by business men to park their heavy trucks and materials permanently, causing serious inconvenience to the public. Uncontrolled vehicular traffic: Guwahatians feels the nuisance of vehicular traffic without any respite. Attempt to cross road in busy hours is a hazard. In crossing points/ Zebra crossings, hardly any police man is found help the pedestrians to cross the road. Police men are not posted in many vulnerable points in the main roads of the city except during the movement of VIPs. Other disturbing point to note is that 90 % of car drivers on the road don’t earn the manners and have the decency to stop or slowing down the vehicles, when a pedestrian(s) wants to cross the road. In this respect two wheelers are more dangerous. Another important point to highlight is that mostly two wheelers/ three wheelers, instead of making a U-turn, they make short cuts to reach their destition by driving on the wrong side. Unworthy City Buses: Eighty percent of Guwahati City buses need to be dumped in the Junk yard. Most of buses that are playing in the city are horribly unworthy to travel in. Having no option in place, the commuters are using them keeping their life at risk.
Ugly side of Guwahati: We don’t know how many more decades would be required to teach some section of the public not to litter and spit in road sides and public places. We often see even well dressed people spit and throw scrap materials on the road side without any hesitation. It is quite despicable to see heaps of strewn garbage found alongside of many roads. Public Toilet and hygiene: It is very common to see people defecate /urite in the public places. How long one can control his ture’s call? There has to have public toilets. Some two or three years back it was told that Guwahati will have 500 public toilets. Where are those? We can’t punish them, when there has been no public toilet in place. In fact, unhygienic and stinking condition is prevailing in most of the places in Guwahati.
Law and order problem: Rape, Murder, theft and extortions have become a commonplace in the city. These are purely law and order problem. To stop occurrence of crimes of any form, police must remain alert, proactive, honest and efficient. However, it is apparent from the facts that law enforcing agencies are not doing their duty honestly. As such, they failed us badly.
Having discussed a few important issues above, I want to sum up by stating that every individual must be good, honest, maintain discipline and obey the rule of law. Law enforcing agency must deal with the repeated offender’s of law, heavily. Keeping the city clean, tidy and safe to live in is a joint venture between public and the administration. All must participate to keep his/her city clean, beautiful, and free from pollution and keep hygienic too. Many cities of Europe were full of dirt and filth 100 years ago. The transformations were scintillating. Lee Kwan yew, converted Singapore from rags to riches. Honesty, diligence and will power of men have so much energy that it can move a “mountain” if so desire. Let us strive to make Guwahati a vibrant city to live in!