Opinion, Guwahati, Winter, Guwahati Plus

Tuesday, 19 January 2021



Death of Guwahati’s Winter 

Subhasish Das | January 13, 2018 15:41 hrs

For someone born and raised in Guwahati, having experienced the wonderful yet at times, harsh winters all his life, it's agonizingly painful to witness the season’s slow death year after year. December has ended. We've stepped into January and Guwahatians have barely felt the typical chill associated with these months except for two days in the early part of this week. It's all the more frightening to see other parts of the state experiencing a rather normal cold winter and the mercury hardly dipping here to single digit so far. So, who killed Guwahati’s winter?

What has been happening in Guwahati city in the name of urbanisation and development in the last decade or so is scary to say the least. One need not be an environmentalist to point out the apparent causes that have driven us to the despairing situation we are in today. Let's talk about some of the most obvious causes that are entirely man-made and unless corrective measures are taken, the cold winter months in the city could well be a thing of the past pretty soon.

The author justifiably expresses his concerns on Guwahati’s fading winter chill and pinpoints the pertinent reasons that has seemingly hastened the same besides indicating the impending disaster that the future holds should the concerns not be addressed

Firstly, unabated construction of residential flats across the city has led to a substantial reduction of the green cover in the city. The cutting down of large expanses of CO2 absorbing trees and plants seem to have started making big time impact on the ecology. By removing forests, we also have effectively removed the natural systems that absorb carbon. Real estate business is booming and the strong lobby in collusion with the government authorities has flouted norms with impunity and unleashed a systematic ruination process of the city's ecosystem not giving two hoots about its dangerous impact on the weather patterns.

Secondly, vehicular density of the city is one of the highest in the country with more than 1 million vehicles registered with DTO (Kamrup) as per recent data. Add to it another 10,000 vehicles coming in daily from the nearby states of Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur and you have the perfect recipe for disaster. These vehicles, apart from choking the city roads, emit seriously harmful gases like hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide etc that get easily trapped and retained in the ozone layer due to the absence/insufficiency of the green cover within the city. But despite this, more than 300 vehicles get registered in the city every day on an average and it's dispiriting to see no controls/actions/policies on the part of the authorities concerned to stop, change or improve things. The continuous abuse inflicted on the city by its own populace coupled with perpetual neglect from the authorities is a heads up to the future generations of the hellish times ahead with possibly no winter existing at all.   

Thirdly, the burgeoning population of the city is a pressing issue that needs to be dealt with immediately and head-on. The estimated population of the city is a little over 2 million with an average yearly increase of 0.14 million. The gradual and unrestrained growth in the city's population is no less an irritant than its vehicle population and is critically linked to the previous two causes. The necessity to accommodate this ever-multiplying population has majorly contributed to the real estate boom and constantly increasing vehicle density. 

Urbanisation is never a scourge nor is acquiring a residential property or owning a car. But the manner in which these things have taken shape in Guwahati city in the last few years is definitely a concern. The gradual surge in temperature of the city irrespective of season, major alterations in weather pattern and the overall ecosystem, the slow and painful death of the once prominent winter are some of the prices that generations, present and future would have to pay heavily.


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