Guwahati: Why it can’t be a smart city anytime soon

Thursday, 19 September 2019

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Guwahati: Why it can’t be a smart city anytime soon

Rifa Deka | July 06, 2019 17:35 hrs


Guwahati is the largest urban area in the entire northeast region of India with a population of well over a million people. The Dispur capital complex has facilitated the growth of the southern areas of the city starting from Ganeshguri all the way till the Panjabari area and beyond. There is also massive residential development taking place towards the east from the Zoo Road area till Hengerabari and Narengi.


Now that our city is on the list of Smart Cities under the project by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, we must take steps to first resolve the basic problems faced by the Guwahatians at present.


Our roads are still too narrow and congested to support the amount of vehicles in the city leading to severe traffic congestions during peak hours.


The city still has open drains and many localities still face a major problem of frequent power cuts and lack of proper water supply.


Some of the “posh” localities in the city are dependent on water tankers to bring in water from time to time. There is also a lack of parking space in all prime localities of the city.


Many streetlights on the main roads are also not functional and the city needs a lot of attention to improve its overall infrastructure.


Guwahati is also one of the fastest growing cities in India and it is estimated that the Guwahati Metropolitan will house about 2.8 million residents by 2025. The female literacy rate of the state is still lagging behind at 88.5% against a male literacy rate of 94.4% and an overall literacy rate of 91.5%.
The manufacturing and petroleum sector does contribute a substantial share to the economy of the city but we must also ensure that steps are taken towards a sustainable development. This must be the top most priority of the industrial giants operating here.


We have many centralized, private and international banks operating in the city as we move towards digitization and a cashless society but not a large population knows how to deal without cash, either due to digital illiteracy or fear of cashless transactions leading to fraud.


The Lokpriya Gopinath International Airport situated in Borjhar, which is also the eleventh busiest airport in India in total passenger traffic, has some of the longest queues. The infrastructure is too poor for it to be called an international airport in comparison to the airports of other cities.


People from various parts of the state migrate to Guwahati in search of better employment opportunities and education which only adds to the overpopulated city beyond what it is built for.


Prices of commodities are increasing rapidly and these keep escalating due to which essentials such as poultry and fish have become unaffordable by some, in a place where fish forms an important part of the cuisine.


Even truckers bringing in vegetables from other states have to pay a lot of money as tax at various check posts on their way to Guwahati in West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and even Meghalaya which adds to the price of the vegetables.


We are a city that still has a limited road network, problem of insurgency, limited delivery of basic services, flash floods, so on and so forth.


Guwahati, in order to become a smart city in true sense must first battle the unplanned population growth which the city has seen over the past few decades and deal with the socio-economic problems which may cause hindrance to its growth and transformation.


(The author is a student of Royal Global University in Guwahati) 

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