Less pollution this Durga Puja

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Administration confident of less pollution this Durga Puja

Avishek Sengupta | September 25, 2017 12:32 hrs

Noonmati residents bracing up for another round of Visarjan-induced pollution 


Concentrated Area: Noonmati Sector – 1 (22B)

Ward No: 22

Population of the Ward: 65,000

Voter Population:  16,700

Population of Noonmati Sector – 1: 6,750

Ward Councillor: Rajen Das


While Visarjan on Dashami – when the idol of the mother goddess is immersed in rivers – is an occasion for joy and celebration for the devotees, the residents of Noonmati Sector - 1 keep their fingers crossed hoping for less garbage on the banks of the Brahmaputra.   


Noonmati Sector – 1 of Ward 22, one of the eastern most wards under Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), overlaps with the Guwahati Refinery, which is the second refinery of Assam commissioned in 1962 after Digboi which was inaugurated during the colonial era.   


However, like many wards in the city, Ward-22 has a long list of glitches that range from dilapidated roads, illegal encroachment by flood-affected people from Lower Assam to water crisis. The most distressing aspect in the locality is the pollution faced by the residents in all the different categories.    According to some residents, the immersion of idols throughout the year has caused an unprecedented level of noise pollution which seems to be increasing every year.   


Annual affairs with long impending repercussions


Partha Bora, a resident working in a private firm, does not mince words in expressing his displeasure over the existing state of affairs. “We have to install air purifiers in our houses and change the filters every two or three months. Harmful as it may be, but over time, we have somehow come to terms with the refinery’s pollution. But what we can resist, and we all should, is the pollution created during the immersion. Devotees, most of whom remain drunk, recklessly throw away plastic and other pollutants in and around the immersion site,” he said, anger writ large on his face. 


He added, “Last year, after the BJP came to power, we hoped that the Swachh Bharat Mission would be strictly enforced but there has hardly been any effect here during the Visarjan of Durga Puja. And the same situation is found to get repeated.” 


The district administration, every year, unfailingly issues notices and guidelines to be followed during the Visarjan which are hardly followed by the devotees. Dhrupod Rajbongshi explained how the debris left behind causes a stink in the neighbourhood for several days. This apart, scavenging birds feed on the garbage for several days after the Visarjan.       


The irritation of the residents is amplified when gung-ho devotes play peppy Bollywood or Assamese songs at high decibels disturbing the entire locality. Bhargab Duarah narrates how his ailing father’s blood pressure shot up after such an event.  


“There was no option but to take him to our relative’s place in Sualkuchi a day before Vijaya Dashami. In 2015, he had to be admitted to a hospital after the Vijaya Dashami,” he said.


Govts have come, Govts have gone, but bad roads remain forever


Once regarded as one of the most developed localities of the city, this ward is now synonymous with potholed roads strewn with stones and boulders that are yet to attract the attention of the administration. The unsavoury experience of the road starts about a kilometre from the Public Works Department (PWD) office in Bamunimaidam towards Noonmati which aggravates at the area near the refinery.  


“Approximately 300 to 400 oil tankers use this route every day. And this has taken a heavy toll on the road. Since this refinery is a money spinner for the government, it should also begin investing in roads and infrastructure. So far however, the government’s only activity seems to be to fill up the potholes when they grow too large,” Karim Ahmed, a shop owner said.


Echoing the views of Ahmed, Prakash Das pointed out, “The road from the gate of the refinery does not even have the carpet-pitch and it has been lying in that condition since the previous Congress regime. The regime changed, but the roads have remained the same.”


Administration confident of less pollution this Durga Puja


Overzealous devotees during the Visarjan, who have been a nuisance for many localities in Guwahati, could be greeted with a surprise if the administration really means what it has said.  


Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner, M Angamuthu, informed that all organising committees of the different Pujas in the city have been instructed to collect the garbage deposited during the immersion and dispose them at other designated locations on their own. “Officials from the deputy commissioner’s office will also accompany the processions to the immersion site. Anybody found flouting the guidelines will be penalised. The committees have been told not to play music during procession beyond the permissible range of loudness.”


Ward Councillor, Rajen Das, is upbeat that all steps would be taken to ensure that the guidelines are followed. He told G Plus that the issue was broached at a recent meeting with the deputy commissioner where the Mayor, Mrigen Sarania, was also present.  


“We will also keep a tab on the number of idols that are immersed in our locality. The registration of the puja committees will give us an estimate and it will help in enforcing the guidelines issued by the administration,” Das explained. He said that a few NGOs would also join hands with the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) to clean the immersion site after the event.  


On the pitiable condition of the roads, Das pinned the blame on the trucks but also said that he was in touch with the PWD for their repair. “This is one of the busiest routes in the city. Unlike in most parts of the city that witnesses a gradual slowdown of traffic activity in the evening, trucks keep moving throughout the night in Noonmati. So, putting a halt to the vehicular movement would make the refinery come to a standstill with no alternative route. That is why repairing the road in patches is the only solution.”


Administration confident of less pollution this Durga Puja

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