Brahmaputra Riverfront Beautification Dream Shattered Amidst CAA Stirs
Project pending since 2009
As the Assam government was gearing up to host the now postponed historic Indo-Japan summit, the state leadership had left no stone unturned in terms of beautification of the city. Even the long pending Brahmaputra riverfront beautification work saw some momentum as a fair bit of work on the riverfront was seen in the proximity of Lachit Ghat. This work proved that the riverfront can indeed be beautified but the body responsible for the beautification - Guwahati Smart City Ltd (GSCL) – is still struggling to start the project.
The Public Works Department (PWD) carried out beautification work near Lachit Ghat and other areas in the vicinity up to Sukreshwar Ghat. According to sources, a total of approximately Rs 12 crores was sanctioned for the Indo-Japan meet, and a huge amount from this was spent on riverfront beautification. The PWD individually has carried out the beautification work and according to the local residents of area this is the first time that the Brahmaputra riverfront looks beautified near Lachit Ghat.
“During Namami Brahmaputra, the riverfront was a beatified to an extent but not the way it has been done now. We were expecting that the riverfront will be further beautified but the CAA (Citizenship (Amendment Act, 2019) protests have halted the process,” said Robiul Islam, a resident who lives near MG Road.
In 2009-10, the Tarun Gogoi government had also dreamt of a Rs 300 crore plan for beautifying the Brahmaputra riverfront and GMDA was assigned with the task. But like many other GMDA projects, the Brahmaputra riverfront beautification project remained in limbo.
After the declaration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of creating smart cities in the country, Guwahati was selected as one of the first 20 smart cities in the country and accordingly a special purpose vehicle (SVP) was formed - Guwahati Smart City Ltd. (GSCL) - which again took Brahmaputra riverfront beautification as a major project.
“The Brahmaputra riverfront beautification project is on hold now for various reasons,” said a source in the Guwahati Smart City Ltd.
The source revealed that the detailed project report (DPR) of the project is complete which has an estimated budget of Rs 826 crores including works like embankment (filling and cutting of earth); construction of concrete sloping wall with rock filling; construction of infrastructure work like cycling lane, footpaths, jetties and river bank protection works aiming continuity and access along the river linkages from the city to the riverfront, development of cultural precinct in the government areas, revitalisation of the river ecology etc. But the project is on hold now as the GSCL is not being able to get the land for the purpose.
The stretch from Governor’s House to Bharalumukh is expected to be beautified under the project but there are land patches belonging to various departments like Assam Police, Inland Water Transport, Assam Tourism Development Corporation, Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), Guwahati Municipal Corporation, many private parks and so on. The GSCL source said that getting the land is an issue. Also, there is a 6-lane flyover which will be constructed from Bharalumukh to North Guwahati. There the project has to be further revised.
The frequent transfer of managing directors (MD) of GSCL is another reason for the delay of the project. “The transfer of MDs does affect the flow of the work. Every individual has his or her own way of dealing with work and with the change of the officers, the work flow gets affected every time an officer is transferred,” said the source.
The GSCL should take some lessons from the PWD as the recent work done for the Japanese PM’s visit has proved that it is not impossible to beautify Brahmaputra riverfront.