Spruced up Guwahati

Wednesday, 20 January 2021



Spruced up Guwahati

Swapnil Bharali | December 07, 2019 12:23 hrs

VIPs visiting the city, I always felt, was an unnecessary irritant. 

Their travel routes, which are essentially the city’s arterial roads, would be blocked leading to massive traffic snarls that would lead to delays and wastage of the Guwahatian’s precious time. To top that would be the irritating movement of the VIP convoys with their blaring sirens that would make you wonder whether our very future is doomed if the particular VIP-in-a-hurry failed to show this urgency on the streets unmindful of the choking traffic.

But Guwahati today has come a long way from being a city where there was the occasional VIP visiting once in a blue moon. Guwahati today is a happening city and will play host to slew of prestigious events from December through February: the Indo-Japan summit slated for 15th December, the Khelo India Youth Games starting from 10th January next and thereafter, the Filmfare Awards slated for February 2020. 

And so rightfully, Guwahati is being given a bridal makeover and contractors are literally burning the streets’ midnight lamps to finish the sprucing work on time which essentially is a tight but not unachievable deadline. I had the occasion to share a cup of tea with a very senior government bureaucrat who happens to be an important part of the Khelo India event and he was fervently hoping that the cosmetics being applied right now to the city would hold good till the end of the Filmfare Awards.

Be that as it may, whenever the government is on this sprucing-up-the-city mode (yes, it has happened before with Advantage Assam, South Asian Games etc) the debate mills start rolling with people often expressing dismay at the “wastage” of public money on the “cosmetics” rather than tackling the genuine problems of water supply, cleaner drains and better by-lanes among others that the city actually needs. This is understandable as besides the city becoming the cynosure of all eyes – albeit momentarily – such events hardly have anything more than news value and never appear to be contributing towards the city’s earnings by way of money.

So, are hosting events of such magnitude really good for the city? Or should the government take tangible steps towards its “Smart City” promise that would perhaps make it more endearing to the voting public? The debate will rage on but for the moment, let’s bask in the fresh looking Guwahati.

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