Bad Roads And Delayed Works Make Lachit Nagar Residents Apprehensive
Lachit Nagar in Ward No. 13 of the city is probably one of the first localities that faced the “brunt” of development after the change in regime from Congress to the incumbent BJP in May, 2016.
A road that originates from GS Road (now called Srimanta Sankardev Path) at the tip of the Ulubari flyover when travelling from Khanapara to Paltanbazar and runs diagonal to the GS Road, connects with Rajgarh Road and Sarania Road that runs parallel to it through by-lanes, the present day Lachit Nagar traces its origins to the 16th century when Guwahati was Pragjyotishpur - a battle post under the Ahom Kingdom (1228-1826 AD).
The present day Bhangagarh used to be a fort between Narakasura Hill and Nilachal Hill to thwart enemy attacks from the Brahmaputra and Lachit Nagar was safely nestled within the fort area. Legend has it that the famous Ahom general, Lachit Barphukan, who stopped the attack by the Mughals in the Battle of Saraighat in 1671 AD, had his residential quarters in this locality. Hence, it’s been named Lachit Nagar.
During the Assam agitation (1979-1985), when thousands of youths came out on to the streets for a better Assam under the banner of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), several from Lachit Nagar that historically had a mixed population of Assamese and Bengalis, too participated. Many from this region helped the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the political party that was formed with AASU leaders after the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985, come to power.
Fast forward to 2016, when BJP promised the same and a corruption free Assam, hundreds mobilised themselves from this region and helped the BJP candidate Siddhartha Bhattacharya win with a sweeping majority of 96,637 votes over the Congress candidate Bobbeeta Sharma. Bhattacharya lives about 50 meters away from Lachit Nagar.
BJP too rewarded the locality with two very important projects. One was the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assisted South Central Guwahati Water Supply Project, which had hit backlogs during the Congress regime and was re-started. And this year, the revamp of the drainage system in the locality was started.
The water supply project, when completed, will provide 107 million litres of water every day, while the drains were supposed to channelize the rainwater that comes down the Sarania Hills to the Bharalu River at Rajgarh. But, the development has come at a very dear price.
The pipeline laying process got caught in administrative catacombs leaving the roads unrepaired – almost zero pitch covering, uneven surface with bumps all along and a big rock hidden under cloaks of dust.
The PWD did not restore the roads alleging that the entire project – digging, laying pipelines and repairing the road – was supposed to be done by IVRCL Ltd., the company that has been entrusted with completion of the water pipeline laying and road repairing works. IVRCL on the other hand says that the roads can only be repaired when the pipes are properly laid and carries water as otherwise, if leaks appear after repairing, it will be cumbersome to rework it. To add to the residents’ miseries, the simultaneous drainage work has further narrowed the already dilapidated road.
“Bad roads and improper garbage treatment had always been a concern of this locality. We hoped that these problems would be solved, but the condition has further deteriorated. We now feel embarrassed to invite friends and relatives who come by car to Lachit Nagar,” Mamoni Bora, a resident of Lachit Nagar, said.
“We were told that the discomfort will be for just a short while as all the departments will complete their respective works on a war footing. But it has been almost one and half years and nothing has developed. We feel that we are paying too dear a price for the amenities that we are not even sure off getting,” Pankaj Kalita said.
Another resident, Seema Baruah, who had to keep her shop shut for over a week due to the drainage work said, “This is not how a government works. The authorities should have devised a way to carry out the works without causing any hassle to the people here. We would have understood if it was for a few months, but it has taken much more time than we had ever bargained for.”
Even though the discontent of the residents reached its brim, councillor Nipan Kumar Kalita said there is very little he can do.
“I can understand people’s discontent. I myself go through this route more than thrice daily and its condition is really very bad. But developing it is not within my ambit. I am in talks with the legislator and the PWD and even with IVRCL too. I take regular updates of the process. But one must realise that international companies are conducting the work and several factors are in play,” Kalita told G Plus.
He further added, “The work is however going at a faster pace than other places in the city. Labourers are working in two shifts, both in day and night. The road being narrow also acts as a challenge as it becomes difficult to commute big construction vehicles on it. We restrict most of those heavy duty works to the nights. We can only urge people to have some more patience. Both of these are very ambitious projects and when completed will permanently solve the two most recurrent problems of the locality – water crisis and flash flood.”
Concentrated Area: Lachit Nagar (13 C)
Ward No: 13
Population of the Ward: 49,000
Voter Population: 26,900
Population of Ulubari: 13,600
Ward Councillor: Naba Kumar Kalita