Partial commissioning of JNNURM project offers ray of hope for Pandu
GUWAHATI: All hopes of the people of Pandu, a chunk of the city plagued by lack of potable water for more than half a decade, are pinned on the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) project - the date of partial commission of which was announced this week.
The GMC has recently announced that the JNNURM project of south-west water project and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-assisted south-central Guwahati water project will be partially commissioned by March 2019.
Currently, only the Gauhati University, Assam Engineering College and the nearby areas receive about 4 million litres of water daily from the water treatment plant of the Public Health Engineering department situated near the university; the same hardly suffices the need of the people of the whole ward. After complete commissioning of the JNNURM project the Pandu area, along with the rest of the southwest Guwahati is expected to receive 107 million litres of water daily.
In a survey conducted by G Plus in which 50 persons were asked about the living standards provided by the GMC, 96 per cent of the respondents – 48 out of a sample size of 50 – from Pandu area said that they do not receive water regularly or daily.
“We have suffered a lot. But now, we think that with the water project getting completed, the most perennial problem of this area will be solved. We are very hopeful but I think that the wait for the project to be over has been too long,” Godadhar Paul, a resident here said.
Most of the residents depend on deep tube wells for their water. The problem, however, is more acute in the hilly areas. “We have to carry water from the bottom up to the hills. And almost all the homes here do that,” Hashi Chakraborty, a resident at the foot of the Nilachal Hills said.
The Pandu area, an offshoot from Maligaon, shows a striking disparity from its counterpart in Ward No 5 with more woes than boons piled up here. While most of Maligaon is catered to by the Northeast Frontier Railway, Pandu, on the other side of the MG Road, is under the GMC and hence, lack the desired maintenance, the residents alleged. The survey that was conducted on 14 living parameters in a ward revealed that besides lack of clean water, people are not satisfied with at least six other such parameters.
Water logging tops the list with 42 respondents (84 per cent) saying that it happens here every monsoon, while off the remaining 8 respondents, 4 (8 per cent) said that it happens occasionally in some lanes.
Lack of proper drainage too is a major issue as a majority of 29 respondents (58 per cent) said that there is no proper drainage system while 8 others (16 per cent) said that the drainage system needs improvement.
The people there complained that they do not feel too secure in the ward. Only 13 persons (26 per cent) feel the area is secure while off the rest 37, 29 (58 per cent) said that the area needs more security and 8 others (16 per cent) said that there is no proper security provisions in the area.
It may however be mentioned that the area lies within half a kilometre’s radius from the Jalukbari police station.
48 respondents said that there are not enough pest control measures being taken in the area while all the respondents unanimously said that there are no public toilets and parking spaces in the area.
Residents express satisfaction regarding streetlights
While most of the city is suffering from lack of streetlights, the residents of Pandu said that they have ample lights in the streets and lanes here.
This is a recent development as the residents said that streetlights had been installed in most of the lanes last year by the Inland Water Transport, Assam that has taken up the modernisation of the Pandu port as part of a project taken up during the Namami Brahmaputra in 2016.
As many as 28 respondents (56 per cent) said that the roads are well lit while only 1 (2 per cent) said that they are vaguely lit and 3 others (6 per cent) said that the roads are insufficiently lit. 18 respondents (36 per cent) said that there are no streetlights in their locality.
“After the IWT has taken up the task of modernising the port, a lot of developmental works have started. The roads have been made better and streetlights have been installed,” B Das, a resident said.
Residents have also expressed satisfaction regarding the road conditions in the area. 40 respondents (80 per cent) said the road conditions are average while 1 (2 per cent) said them to be good. The remaining 9 (18 per cent) rated them as bad while none said that the road conditions are pathetic.
The same goes with the availability of public transportation in which 45 respondents (90 per cent) said it is up to the mark while 5 others (10 per cent) said that it could have been better.
Regarding traffic, 48 per cent (96 per cent) termed it smooth. However, when it comes to the traffic movement on the MG Road, the respondents said that it is pathetic.
The residents have also expressed satisfaction regarding the door-to-door garbage collection - a service that is directly monitored by the GMC. While half of the total respondents said that their garbage is collected daily, 3 (six per cent) said that it is taken twice every week and 1 (2 per cent) said it is collected once every week. Off the rest 21, 19 said the garbage collection is irregular while two others said that they had never received this service.
“Except those who live in the hilly areas, garbage collection services are provided in most of the ward. Our garbage is generally picked up daily with few occasional disruptions,” a resident, Kaushik Shah said.
All the residents unanimously said that ambulance and other health facilities are easily available to them.
Councillor asks residents to be more patient
Councillor Shikha Dey reiterated that she too, along with the residents of her Ward No 2, has suffered due to lack of regular water supply and asked them to be a little more patient.
“I am aware that the people of this ward have suffered a lot due to lack of water over the last few years because I, too, am one of them. GMC cannot be blamed for the problem as we did not have that in our hand. We survived on deep tube well water and the little we used to get from the PHE and NFR water treatment plant’s supply. This, however, is going to change soon. I can only ask the residents here to be a bit more patient and this problem will also be solved for good. They have waited so long. I hope they can wait a little more,” Dey, who once represented Congress and then shifted to BJP in 2016, said.
The recent GMC’s partial commissioning of the water supply project will play in favour of Dey as the council elections are knocking on the door. Dey said that she will be representing the BJP for the first time in this election and she has “full faith” on the ruling party to solve all the problems of her ward one by one.
“I just want to be of assistance while doing so,” Dey, seemingly optimistic of her victory, said.
When asked about the water logging problem, she said, “We are in a flood-prone zone. There isn’t much that I, as a councillor of the ward, can do. The GMDA has been trying to find a solution to it. And for the water that comes from the hills, those cannot be stopped right now. But people don’t seem to notice that the water gets pumped out faster than before. Within 15-20 minutes, it gets cleared.
Law and order, however, is a problem she wasn’t aware of.
“The city has grown exponentially and with it, a lot of criminal elements have also found its way into the city. Pandu, being near the railway station, has been plagued by those elements. But I thought that the police had been doing a good job. If the residents here have complained about it, I will let the authorities know about it,” Dey said.
In the survey, she however had a bit of hard luck in getting people’s goodwill with 30 respondents (60 per cent) rating her to be an under performer while the rest 20 persons (40 per cent) found her work to be satisfactory.