GDD Minster fails to solve urban flood menace; Rs 75 Cr flows ‘down the drain’
GUWAHATI: As soon as Gauhati East MLA, Siddhartha Bhattacharya, had become the Guwahati Development Department (GDD) minister in April 2018, he had met the officials of Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) and Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) displaying an aggressive disposition ensuring that media reports stated that the newly appointed minister will leave no stone unturned to develop Guwahati.
One year later it looks like the minister has not given even an average performance with every short smart shower submerging Guwahati. Friday morning last is the latest case in point.
When the minister took over de-siltation work was going on in full swing. He had then pronounced that he would monitor the work minutely and personally and ensure that the drains were properly cleaned. But the shower story of the city from Friday morning last begs to tell a different tale.
A former BJP GMC councillor, talking to G Plus under condition of anonymity said, “The de-siltation work was neither monitored properly by the minister nor by the GMC officials. Therefore the drains were not properly cleaned and Rs 75 lakhs was wasted by the GDD.”
He explained that GMC had received a grant of Rs 75 crores in 2018 to develop the drainage system and the city’s major river channels. The GMC prepared a three-year plan (2018-20) to assess the drainage system of the city, de-silt the drains and clean the river channels by utilising the fund.
He explained that in July 2018 the tenure of the councillors ended and thereafter the contractors working on the project were dealing directly with the engineers and not through the respective councillor. The GMC engineers, according to the councillor, can be easily bribed for obtaining favourable reports which help the contractors in getting their bills cleared from the urban local body despite deficiency in their work.
“From April to July, work was happening fine as the contractors could get their payments only if the councillors were satisfied with the de-silting work. After July, with the councillors’ tenure ending, it became the duty of the GDD minister to monitor the work from time to time which he never did,” said the former councillor.
There are 330 drains and five major river channels in the city (Bharalu, Bahini, Lakhimijan, Basistha and Mora Bharalu). The contractors were accordingly awarded the work after tenders were floated.
The councillor claimed that the contractors do not clean the drains properly if not monitored, and since July 2018 no one monitored the work properly. The GDD minister remains busy cutting ribbons and his associates remain busy dealing with the contractors, alleged the councillor.