Ward Watch: Monsoon turns Kharguli roads into paddy fields
Water pipeline work on the newly christened Dr. Bhupen Hazarika Road that passes through Kharguli in Guwahati Municipal Corporation’s Ward No 12 has made the stretch treacherous to commute for the residents here.
While the road that exits at Noonmati near the Guwahati Refinery connects three wards, namely, 11 that includes Uzan Bazar, 12 that includes Kharguli and 22 that includes Choonchali, Noonmati and the Guwahati Refinery, the road condition is the worst between the Gauhati High Court and the Don Bosco Institute at Kharguli.
According to residents, except for a few isolated stretches in Uzan Bazar, the road condition was more or less up to the mark until the water pipe laying works were started.
“First, the works started near the Don Bosco Institute way back in 2011 when the water projects were first announced.
It caused a lot of problem while commuting, but we endured it as we were hopeful that once the work would get over, we will get regular water. The project has been stalling all this while and the roads have remained dilapidated since then,” said resident Rituraj Saikia, further adding, “In fact, the condition has worsened as the digging works for laying the pipeline has been extended further along the road.”
While most of the city roads remain affected by the three water supply projects that are going on in the city, Kharguli in particular, has faced the biggest brunt as the intake point reservoirs and water treatment plant of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-assisted South Central Guwahati Water Supply Project are located in the area. The project is worth Rs 1363.28 crores and is expected to provide 191 million litres of water daily to the south-central Guwahati.
The pipe that goes along the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Road is the main artery of the pipeline network and hence, is the widest.
“Two sets of pipes were laid on both sides of the road, in two instalments. Most of the works are done at night, but then again, the road remains dilapidated. More annoying is that, after laying the pipelines, they just cover the dug up portion with rocks, rubbles and sands. Earlier, when we asked if the roads will be repaired anytime soon, the contractors said that there was a shortage of stone chips. Once the shortage is over, it will be done, but nothing has happened so far,” Pankaj Borah, a shop owner on the roadside said.
He complained that he has to dust his shop a number of times daily due to the pollution from the roads.
S Venkatesan, managing director of Guwahati Jal Board - the parent body that is looking after the water projects – said to G Plus when contacted, “The onus to reconstruct roads falls on the Public Works Department while our responsibility is confined to laying pipelines only. The funds for both the works however will come from JICA. It is probably because of delay in sanction of fund for the latter that the PWD is not being able to reconstruct the roads.”
Commuters, however continue to have nightmarish experience commuting through the region. “Driving on this road is as good as driving over a paddy field. The worst part is that this nightmare has been going on for as long as I can remember. Interestingly, some top VIPs including High Court judges and a cabinet minister have their residences here.
One would have expected that the road reconstruction would have been put on priority at least for their commuting comfort. But nothing seems to nudge the inertia of the government. We have no idea when the road will be reconstructed,” said F Rahman, a resident of Kharguli who has his own bungalow.
88-year-old WTP fails to provide adequate water to Kharguli
It has been a long and excruciating eight years of waiting for the residents of Kharguli who have been enduring a dilapidated and dusty road since 2011, when the JICA-assisted South-Central Guwahati water supply project was commissioned with no sight of regular potable water being supplied yet.
The project, when completed is expected to provide 190 million litres of potable water daily to South Central Guwahati including Kharguli - a hope on which the residents have been enduring the devastation of their roads, dust emanating thereof, the dirt in dry seasons and muck in rainy seasons.
While the Rs 1636.28 crore worth project had been skipping deadlines, the residents of Kharguli have to survive on the water supply from the 88-year-old dilapidated Satpukhuri water treatment plant – commissioned in 1930 and later renovated in 1984 – the capacity of which has gone down by 30 percent from its initial capacity of 22.50 million litres daily (MLD) to 15.75 MLD now. The water distribution network, however, was not renovated and the water supply there is still dependent on the 1930 model of distribution.
“Those who live in the plains get water. Though it is in very less quantity, but still they do. Those who live in the hills however do not get water. There are certain water supply points at the foot of the hills to where people from the hilly areas have to come down, collect water and carry it all the way up,” said Nabin Bora, the Asom Gana Parishad area sabha member of Kharguli, that is 12A area of the ward.
It may be mentioned here that while certain areas of the Kharguli Hill are encroached, many parts in the hills are patta lands where patta land holders live too.
Nikhilesh Kalita, one such resident, said, “I have been a resident here for the last 30 years. My father brought this piece of land and built our house. We have pattas and a water connection too. But, it’s about a decade now that the pipelines have dried up. Water released from the treatment plant has such less force that it can hardly make it up the hills. Also, of late, a lot of flats and residential complexes have been constructed here. Most of these, while having their own deep tube wells, also have taken water connections from the GMC.”
“The demand has risen significantly but the quantity has decreased from the earlier times. We were hopeful that the water supply projects will bridge that gap, and hopefully, it will. But, in the meantime, a lot of people are suffering,” Bora added.
Since the term of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) ward council expired on July 31 last, there is no councillor present in any of the wards in the city.
But the residents of Kharguli do not have very high regard for their former councillor Balendra Bharali either.
Many complained that over his five-year-long tenure since the last GMC election in 2013, Bharali could have at least repaired the 88-year-old rickety water distribution channel.
“A lot of water gets lost in transmission due to the condition of the water supply channels. Instead of putting all hopes on the water supply projects, the councillor should at least have repaired the existing water distribution channel. It would not have completely solved the problem, but would at least have brought some relief to those who were already getting water from GMC in lesser quantity,” Bora concluded.