Temporary city beautification wasting public money, feel Guwahatians
Whenever a VIP visits Guwahati or a national level event is organised, the entire city gets beautified using public money. But the beauty is never sustained.
The Rs 32 crore budget Global Investors’ Summit (Advantage Assam) compelled the district administration to order the city-based government departments to individually beautify the city. The city was beautified but many Guwahatians feel it is temporary and wastage of public money.
City-based social activist Ajoy Dutta said, “It is nice that the city was beautified using public money but it should be permanent,” adding that all these “tamashas” are not gaining anything for the state and are rather wasting public money.
The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) received a budget of Rs 1.5 crores to beautify the city. Similarly, even Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), Public Works Department (PWD) and many other departments received some funds to beautify the city for the global summit.
The GMC did not use the money and carried out the beautifying work by collaborating with some advertising agencies in a public private partnership (PPP) mode, claimed a senior official. The agencies, in return, received advertising rights for beautifying the city.
The official also claimed that the advertising agencies were selected by a selection committee.
But sources in the department said that many agencies that carried out the various works were very new and did not have any eligibility criteria. The selection, it seems, was done on ad hoc basis. There were agencies that submitted proposals for a sustained and permanent beautification, but such proposals were not accepted. The beautification works are not complete at various places till date.
For temporary beautification just for the two days, plastic flowers and other temporary methods were used. Other departments like PWD and GMDA invested public money to beautify the city but temporarily.
Huge amounts of money are pumped in for beautification during every major event. But after the event is over, the beautification elements gradually disappear.
During Advantage Assam, GMC, through some private agencies, constructed colourful fountains under some flyovers. On the final day of the event it seems the brass nozzles of the fountains were missing as they were stolen, an official source said.
Similarly, many such beautifying elements go missing after the events or VIP visits resulting in huge wastage of public money.
Guwahatians seek permanent beautification
After the summit, many Guwahatians called for permanent beautification of Guwahati rather than temporary beautification.
The chairman of Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), Abdul Mannan Faruk said, “I received a letter from retired IAS officer, Swapnanil Baruah, saying that the city requires permanent beautification.”
The chairman said that all the streetlight poles were illuminated with decorative lights by GMDA, but to sustain it like the West Bengal government has done in Kolkata, some extra funds would be required and he is planning to request the government for the same.
Similarly, many students, activists and other prominent citizens of Guwahati have demanded for permanent beautification.
After the summit was over city authorities like Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) have decided to form a committee to work for permanent beautification. A senior official of GMC revealed that a committee has been formed which will meet soon to discuss the measures required for permanent and sustainable beautification of the city.
Talking about city beautification during VIP visits and major events like Advantage Assam, only roads and streetlights are illuminated - that too only at the places where the VIP movements take place. There are many city streets which are lacking functional streetlights.
Even the Brahmaputra riverfront beautification is a long pending project and at present the officials have a ready excuse that the project is under Smart City. Smart City officials are providing an excuse since the last few years that the detailed project report (DPR) is being prepared.
Strict policy required
During the recently held Global Investors’ Summit, pictures of paan spit stains on the newly painted road dividers went viral on social media with users slamming the situation.
Even Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) officials claimed that strict action would be taken against those who spit on the newly painted dividers, but no action was reported.
Meanwhile, a resident of Guwahati, Neel Saikia, who recently came from Mumbai said, “In Mumbai the local unemployed youths are associated with the urban local body to check that people do not spit anywhere they want.” In Mumbai the BMC (Bombay Municipal Corporation) Act was amended to implement fines on people who spit on streets. A fine of Rs 500 is levied by the local youths out of which a share goes to the BMC.
A similar policy is implemented in Shillong against people who urinate in open space.
Many Guwahatians feel Guwahati requires a similar policy.