From One Election to the Next Guwahati’s Urban Development Plans Remain in Limbo
Urban development of Guwahati has remained a long-drawn mission for the state government in which it has achieved little success to complete the projects which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had once promised.
Prior to being elected in the state after winning the 2016 assembly elections in Assam, the BJP had promised a plethora of development works in their ‘vision document’ for the state, which is almost like a manifesto and laid out the roadmap for Assam’s development by the party.
“It is certain that this Vision Document will show the path while drawing the outline of development of our state,” the document stated adding, “In the event of coming to power of the state, our Party has set its targets to ensure development in different sectors and the road maps for achieving such targets have been analysed.”
Under its plans for urban development, the vision document mentioned the following actions, “reviewing and correcting the flaws in the drainage system throughout the state” and “designing and implementing an ambitious plan for Urban Solid Waste management by applying practices like vermicompost, pelletization, aerobic composting, mechanical composting as well as energy generation.”
Additionally, under the section of ‘Guwahati development’, the party aimed at “reorganising the garbage disposal system of the city in line with the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan” and “using state-of-the-art technologies to prevent flash floods.”
This apart, several other action areas were identified in the document. With the state assembly polls set to take place next year, we take a look at some of these promises made by the BJP with regard to urban development and the status of their implementation.
Solid waste management
The construction of an integrated solid waste management plant has been pending since a long time now. At present, the city’s collected waste gets dumped at the garbage dumping site at Boragaon.
The Guwahati Municipal Corporation’s (GMC) Boragaon dumping ground is posing a threat to the natural habitation at Deepor Beel, a large natural wetland, which is an important destination of migratory birds just on the outskirts of the city. The site is protected under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1971.
Conservationists have long been raising their concern over the deteriorating state of the ecologically-sensitive Deepor Beel which has been suffering from environmental degradation due to continuous waste dumping since 2004.
Even after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the GMC in 2019, to shift the Boragaon dumping ground to a different location, the municipal body has failed to do so till now.
The municipal body had later decided not to shift the dumping site but instead install solid waste management projects at four different locations in and around the city.
Officials had told G Plus that once the integrated solid waste management plants will come up, the city’s garbage will no longer be dumped in Boragaon, but will be sent to these plants for treatment. The GMC was initially allotted Rs 10 crores for the project by the state government.
Further, the district administration had identified four places to set up the integrated solid waste management project. Moreover, a formal allotment order was also issued which was approved by land advisory committee.
The initial four plots were located in Chandrapur, Sonapur, Bashistha and Odalbakra.
The GMC authorities informed that they are awaiting the official possession of the plot to initiate the work on the project.
“Till now, the land allotment remains only on paper and due to the COVID-19 situation, nothing has gone forward in the field. So, the work on the solid waste management plant is held up currently,” executive engineer at GMC, Manojit Bujarbaruah, told G Plus.
Bujarbaruah also added that the plots at Bashistha and Odalbakra have been cancelled as the land in Basistha is under litigation since someone had filed a petition in the High Court; and the plot in Odalbakra is not feasible for setting up the plant.
To add to the problem, the officials have also been facing resistance by the local residents at these allotted sites.
The authorities have decided to set up waste to energy projects waste to manure projects at these selected locations. However, sources informed that it will take time for the project to become operational with the work getting delayed owing to coronavirus.
“It is difficult to predict as to when the work will begin for the project, the pandemic has made things more difficult with another two-week lockdown now in place,” mentioned Bujarbaruah.
Flawed drainage system and artificial floods
Artificial floods and water logging are the twin issues which have plagued the city. They come to the fore with almost every heavy downpour causing massive traffic snarls and inconvenience to the residents.
The most recent case in point being the incessant rainfall witnessed by the city on June 25-26 and during the previous weeks where several main roads of Guwahati were inundated with water.
The ruling party’s poll promise of “using state-of-the-art technologies to prevent flash floods” and “reviewing and correcting the flaws in the drainage system throughout the state” have remain unfulfilled even as the next state assembly elections are round the corner.
Even though the GMC and other authorities such as the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) and Public Works Department (PWD) have been conducting de-silting and maintenance of the drains, to make Guwahati flood-free, the problem has been recurrent.
In another one of its key action areas for Guwahati development, the BJP’s vision document had stated its aim of “protecting water bodies in and around the city.”
G Plus had earlier reported that out of the four ponds located in Guwahati namely, Dighalipukhuri, Jorpukhuri (twin ponds that are adjacent to each other), Nagkota Pukhuri and Silpukhuri, Dighalipukhuri is the only well- maintained pond while the others have turned into dumping yards.
Activists claim that it is a major cause of concern since these ponds help in controlling floods by holding excess water during the rainy season.
Further, 44 rivers in the state have been listed as the most polluted rivers in India in 2019. Some of the most polluted rivers from Assam in the list include Bharalu, Brahmaputra, Bhogdoi, Beki, Jiyabhoroli, Kalang, Kapili, Janji, Puthimari and Ronganadi among others.
Experts maintain that river pollution in the state could reach disastrous levels if steps are not taken to improve the water quality index.
- Urban Development Plans
- Bharatiya Janata Party
- drainage system
- guwahati Development