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Guwahati's woes

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  16 Jun 2017 12:00 AM GMT

The last time in recent memory Guwahati was sent reeling by the first heavy monsoon showers was in June 2014, when as many as four persons were electrocuted, four were buried alive in landslides and one person was washed away by surging waters. This year monsoon has again hit the city hard with its first severe downpour, claiming five lives in a day. And the story remains depressingly the same — lack of political and administrative will to take hard decisions for the city’s long-term wellbeing, little scientific planning and near zero implementation. Guwahati’s draige is an example of how things remain the same in this ‘gateway to the Northeast’. There is an Urban Flood Mitigation Scheme under which drains are being constructed in Guwahati, but the works remain incomplete in most places. The Guwahati Development Department (GDD) and State Public Works Department are taking their own sweet time to get on with the works, even as the monsoon this year has once again stolen a march over their typical ‘too little too late’ efforts. It now transpires that not only did construction begin quite late, lack of effective monitoring and shortage of gravel and other materials too have stymied drain works. Guwahati, aspiring to be a smart city, is already far down in the list as far as cleanliness is concerned. The fact that Guwahati remains without a sewerage system, a garbage disposal mechanism and a drinking water supply infrastructure, not only peg it far back as a habitable city, but all these shortcomings are painfully felt by city denizens during the rains. Laws to prevent encroachment and degradation of its hills and water bodies are not being enforced at all; zoning and building regulations are being violated right and left as multi-storied buildings mushroom. Sadly, the State budget talks about metro rail and urban clusters around Guwahati, but remains practically silent on tackling artificial floods bedevilling the city. Unless Guwahati planners take the bull by the horns to really straighten out the city, its problems will keep revisiting it year after year with greater intensity.

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