Lessons From The Various Researches


Lessons From The Various Researches

Rifa Deka | August 03, 2019 17:02 hrs

Guwahati, the gateway city which leads one to each of the seven sisters, situated at the banks of the Brahmaputra River, has seen rapid urban growth unlike any other city in the region. The ongoing development activities have had a detrimental impact on the environment of the city making it prone to floods, landslides even as it is located on the earthquake-prone Zone V belt. The city faces a major problem of seasonal flash floods every year.

A research had been conducted for the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) by the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) in the year 2014, to review various studies that were conducted on floods affecting the city and focus had been placed on the recurring issue of flash floods in Guwahati.

The North Eastern Space Application Centre’s research was among those reviewed where findings showed that the intensity of rainfall in the city has a direct relation with the induced surface land flow and drainage discharge capacity. A thorough rainfall data analysis also showed surges in the annual intensity-duration-frequency trend over the last few decades.

The Water Resource Department's research was also reviewed to bring better flood management system for the city and to help fight the problem of water-logging and inundation in low lying areas. During monsoons, the Brahmaputra flows over the danger level and low lying areas face severe water logging problems. The Water Resource Department started planning projects under Flood Management. The Bahini Bondajan Flood Water Evacuation Project, providing pumping stations at different locations to relieve drainage congestion, defining boundaries of natural channels by constructing flood walls and strict administrative measures, were among the projects taken up. A ban was to be imposed on earth cutting in hills surrounding Guwahati city. Stopping encroachments in hill areas, banning garbage disposal on wetlands and in drainage channels along with fixation of road levels and preservation of water bodies were to be started on war footing.

The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) had also planned out the Guwahati Flood Mitigation Project to resolve a wide range of problems. To avoid deposition of silt and clogging due to garbage in drains, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) was to work on de-siltation and impose penalties on those who dispose garbage into drains. This was to be completed by 2012 itself. Immediate eviction, demarcation, excavation and fencing were to be done along with beautification of the water bodies through the Assam Tourism Development Corporation and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority.

Early Flood Warning systems were to be installed under the initiative by GMC and the India Meteorological Department within a year. Rain water harvesting was to be made mandatory in all buildings by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation, the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority and the Public Works Department. Restrictions were to be imposed on manufacture and use of plastic by the GMC and the Pollution Control Board. As the earlier pump sets were insufficient to drain out water from low lying areas, procurement of more pump sets was supposed to be done within a period of 3 months. The Public Works Department was supposed to look into fixation of uniform road levels across Guwahati within 3 months. Storm water drainage network was supposed to be in a place by the Guwahati Development Department (GDD) within a year or two. 

A lot has been achieved since when the plans were first chalked out but the city still faces the grave and persistent problem of flash floods each year during the monsoon season. 

A master plan is in place for the Guwahati metropolitan area based on the recommendations of the City Development Plan for Guwahati to be implemented by 2025. The main goals of this plan would be to conserve Guwahati's sensitive natural environment, develop an integrated intra-urban transport system, develop well-distributed physical and social infrastructure, provide space for efficient functioning of economic activities, create special provisions for state capital requirements and create affordable housing for all by developing a city without any slums.

The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) and Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) have also set up a plan of action to climate proof the city. TERI and ACCCRN carried out a risk and vulnerability assessment of the city and found reduction in green cover to be the reason behind the increased vulnerability of the city towards climatic hazards. Overall inadequacy of drainage and lack of proper solid waste management system as well as pollution of both surface and ground water have led to severe water logging year after year in Guwahati.

Rapid unplanned developments have always been crucial and plagued the fragile ecosystem of Guwahati which has had multi-fold impact on the city. Rapid growth and development taking place in urban areas of Guwahati bring forward new and unique challenges which must be addressed by the government and the concerned authorities. Policy level support from the government is imperative to revitalize viable action to put an end to this predicament of Guwahatians.

(The author is a student of Mass Communication at Royal Global University, Guwahati. The views expressed are her own.)

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