Admin fails to mitigate flash floods despite awareness & cleanliness drives
GUWAHATI: A short spell of rain on Friday morning caused an unprecedented artificial flood across several parts of the city. Commuters were stuck in hour-long traffic jams and reports of knee-high water-logging were reported from several parts of the city.
This once again threw light on the poor drainage system in the city, the work for which has been pending for several months now. Tackling flash floods was one of the key goals in the funds sanctioned in the Smart City project. However, no progress seems to have been recorded on the same.
While the hills inside the city and the encroachments there are the primary reasons behind the accumulation of rain water in the low-lying areas such as Anil Nagar, Nabin Nagar and Zoo Road, city residents also blame the government departments – Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), and Public Works Department (PWD) – that are involved in mitigating the flash flood problem.
In spite of de-siltation drives being carried out across all major arterial roads of the city by the GMC and PWD, clogged drains remain a major reason behind the city’s water logging problem.
The Kamrup (Metro) district administration, in May 2019, had claimed to have geared up for the rainy season and stated that it had started work to ensure a flood-free city. Under the instructions of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of the district, the cleaning drive of the rivers and drains had been started.
“Apart from clearing out the dirt and garbage thrown into the watercourses, water hyacinths and other weeds are also being taken out. We’re also keeping all water outlet channels clean at all times,” said a source in the GMC.
The DC Kamrup (M) Biswajit Pegu said, “There should be no halt in carrying out the cleanliness drive in the city this time. Usually, more dirt is stacked up even after the drains have been cleaned out, but it should not happen this time. They should be cleared away immediately. We are doing our best to avoid any water logging this time.”
These projects are being undertaken jointly by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA).
GMC has also taken initiative to organise mass awareness campaigns on keeping the city clean. The awareness campaigns will be organised in the month of June across all 31 wards, informed GMC Commissioner Debeswar Malakar.
However, in spite of the administration’s tall claims, the city had to once again reel under flash flood on Friday morning. In a survey conducted by G Plus – in which 50 persons each from the 31 wards of the city were asked questions on 15 living parameters – it was revealed that in as many as 26 wards, flash floods is a perennial problem. The survey also revealed that maintenance of the drains was irregular in all these 26 wards.
Over the past few years, apart from causing inconveniences, flash floods and water logging have also resulted in injuries and casualties. In 2013, a person had died of electrocution in the flash floods while in 2014, eight persons died of landslides and electrocution and one went missing. This continued till 2017 when three persons died of electrocution at inundated places.
“Almost all major roads and by-lanes were dug up before elections and were left as it is. With incomplete roads and nowhere else to go, rain water will continue to unleash deluges in Guwahati unless administration re-lays the roads and by-lanes and clears the drains on war footing,” expressed Pranjal Patowary, a resident of the city.
In the same vein, a resident of Jorabat speaking to G Plus said, "There is no proper rainwater management system to provide relief. Residents and business establishments on both sides of the highway lose a lot when it rains, even if it is for a while. Goods worth lakhs gets damaged every time there is a flash flood. Moreover, the water also damages a lot of parked vehicles. After the water recedes, we then have to deal with the filth, dirt and sludge, which take several days to clear."
After every downpour, the city drains swell to engulf the roads and low-lying areas of Guwahati, a predicament that the concerned departments have been unsuccessful in solving over the past decade.