Lack of departmental coordination makes Guwahati a living hell
An e-rickshaw carrying school students overturned in the waterlogged Hatigaon area of Guwahati today. Fortunately, no one was injured.
GUWAHATI: An e-rickshaw carrying school students overturned in the waterlogged Hatigaon area of Guwahati today. Fortunately, no one was injured. This incident comes close on the heels of the tragic incident yesterday where a schoolgirl lost her life near Ganesh Mandir in the Ganeshguri area of the city. These two incidents have proved that there is a total lack of coordination between various government departments. Even the Kamrup (metro) Deputy Commissioner today acknowledged that a lack of coordination between departments has come to the fore. This lack of coordination has turned Guwahati into a living hell for its residents and sadly but surely, the bubble of Guwahati being a smart city has burst.
After yesterday’s incident, individuals and organizations have lodged multiple FIRs against the departments concerned. B Balaji, an official of AK Constructions -the construction company which was doing the work- has been arrested. The Kamrup (metro) Deputy Commissioner (DC) today admitted that several accidents have occurred due to digging works. So, as the chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), the DC directed the departments concerned like Public Works Department (Roads), Guwahati Jal Board, Power Grid Corporation and Guwahati Smart City Ltd. to immediately stop all digging works in the city and submit a report on all ongoing works. He also directed to ensure proper barricading and display of visible signs at all sites where such works are going on.
The district administration is now taking measures to ensure that no more accidents take place due to digging works in the city. But why were these measures not taken earlier? Why did it take the loss of a young life for the district administration to spring into action?
The rainfall in the city on Thursday night and Friday morning brought much respite from the heat wave, but with this downpour, the problem of waterlogging has once again come to haunt the people of Guwahati. Areas like Hatigaon, Rukminigaon, Tarun Nagar and some other areas were flooded, and vehicles and people had to dangerously wade through water-logged roads and bylanes. Due to waterlogging, people cannot see the open ditches and footpaths and this is when accidents occur. Today, an e-rickshaw carrying students overturned in the water-logged Hatigaon area of Guwahati. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Residents of Guwahati have been grappling with the problem of artificial flooding for years and despite tall claims and assurances, the authorities concerned have not come up with a scientific and permanent solution to the problem. In an area in Hatigaon, work to raise the height of the road and footpath had started a year back and till today, the work has not been completed. Potholes have developed on the road due to accumulation of water and the condition of the road has become pitiable. The situation becomes worse when there is a downpour, like last night. In Beltola Survey, the PWD increased the height of the roads and the footpaths to solve the problem of waterlogging. But the area continues to get flooded during the rainy season. In Rukminigaon also, the PWD increased the height of the roads and footpaths but this has not solved the problem of waterlogging. This clearly points towards the incompetency of the PWD engineers who have been unable to come up with a scientific and permanent solution to the waterlogging problem. They just take up interim and cosmetic measures which hardly serve any purpose. Steps have been taken to clean the Bharalu River but in the process the guard wall was broken and till now no new guard wall has been constructed. In the absence of a guard wall, it will take just a heavy downpour for severe flooding in many areas of the city.
Most of the drains and ditches in the city are not covered. A point in case is the Basistha-Beltola Chariali area where a flyover is being constructed over the National Highway. The drains nearby are uncovered and there are no barricades in the construction site. This area is a deathtrap, waiting for a disaster to happen.
Residents of the city face other problems also. There is no traffic management and most areas do not have streetlights. In the absence of streetlights, anti-social activities are on the rise in these areas. Water crisis is another major problem. Most households do not have access to piped water. Clearly, Guwahati is far from a smart city. What the city needs now is an apex body to coordinate and streamline the works of various departments so that no more lives are lost.