India: Projecting Guwahati as a Krira Prangan

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Guwahati Development Scheme: Rs 370 Crores Approved for Brahmaputra River Front Project

by Nava Thakuria    11 September 2022

Bhupen-da created the immortal song- Ei Prithivi Ek Kringaon, Krira
Hol Shantir Prangan …. (meaning the World is a Playground, Sports is
the Courtyard of Peace). Crisp voice of the lyricist, poet, author,
music composer, performer, filmmaker and a great humanist, who
deserves a Nobel award posthumously, continues to mesmerise millions
of audience even today. The legendary Assamese singer, Bharat Ratna Dr
Bhupen Hazarika consciously preached for sports as a device for unity,
peace and brotherhood beyond the political boundaries on Earth.

The virtual capital city of north-east India, from where the Bard of
Brahmaputra started his musical journey around the world, is hosting
the 75th senior national aquatic meet paving the way for assembling
nearly one thousand aquatic sports stars, organisers, journalists from
different parts of India during the championship at Dr
Zakir Hussain Aquatic Complex in Sarusajai of Guwahati. Assam Swimming
Association, affiliated to the Swimming Federation of India, takes the
pain to provide space for the globally most participated sports.

Guwahati, which has emerged from the base of Pragjyotishpur of ancient
Kamrup empire, today supports nearly 1.5 million dwellers along with 6
to 8 lakh floating population. Identified as a strategic city while
New Deli is looking forward to south-east Asian nations, the
prehistoric city still struggling to have a safe & secured, clean &
green, flash flood-free status with the regular supply of piped
drinking water to households along with other civic facilities meant
for city-dwellers.

Needless to mention, the Guwahatians deserve a people friendly city with a
smart police force working in synchronization with the residents. They
should feel the confidence to go to any police station any time with
their grievances as well as important inputs necessitated for the
larger interest. Street lights across the city must work and the
installed CCTV cameras in various points should function flawlessly.
These all arrangements should work as a strong deterrent to the
criminals.

Children and senior citizens should be secured while moving around the
city. Public transport needs to be developed and managed in a
dignified way so that everyone can travel safely. The commuters in the
city should get benefits from the public transport till midnight, now
which turns dead during the evening hours. The government-run city
buses, if not the private ones, should ply on selected routes till
late night to cater the need of shift employees in workplaces.

Needless to say that more people use the public transport means the
concerned authority’s relief while managing the traffic on the road
and it will finally help in reducing the degree of air (auto-mobile)
pollution significantly. The garbage management system needs more
efficient workforces. Open drains in some parts of the city may cause
a major health hazard to the citizens.

As the city experiences heavy rains in monsoon, the drains must have
the capacity to take the sudden water load. Often the drains in city
areas start overflowing after a downpour and the filth reaches the
streets and even the residential campuses. The water logging problem
in many areas of Guwahati should be addressed scientifically.

The city has over 15 small and medium hills with a large number of
residents taking shelter there, necessary policies should be adopted
to deal with the issue. The virgin hills, whichever left today, must
be protected methodically. Many streams inside the city have almost
died because of human aggression and a number of wetlands are on the
verge of extinction. The authority must preserve the water bodies to
protect the fragile environment of Guwahati.

The key problem faced by most Guwahatians for decades remains the
scarcity of drinking water. Thousands of families have to buy water on
a regular basis and the situation turns worse in pre-monsoon days. The
groundwater depletion because of its excessive exploitation in the
last few years has worsened the situation. In some areas the
groundwater is found contaminated with fluoride and arsenic making the
situation more complicated. If proper initiatives are not taken on
time, it would emerge as a major health hazard to the residents.

Whoever visits the sprawling city from outside expresses surprise why
Guwahatians are deprived of water even though the mighty Brahmaputra
river flows adjacent to it. The State governments in Dispur have taken
various mega projects to supply drinking water to every household in
the city, but the ground reality remains the same. The consumers are
still waiting for the water, supplied regularly to their kitchens by
the concerned authority. Judicial use of drinking water should also be
promoted among the city people.

Many Guwahatians use the drinking water for all purposes from cleaning
cars to gardening to washing clothes. The practice only reflects how
much precious water the consumers misuse in their day-to-today life.
The concept of rain water harvesting should be promoted so that the
residents use the supplied water only for drinking purposes. The rest
should be managed by the stored rain water to the optimum level.
In recent years, the government has initiated the development of North Guwahati
to reduce the population pressure in the southern bank of Brahmaputra.
After the IITG, various other important institutions including AIIMS
Guwahati has been established in the northern bank. A new all weather
bridge over Brahmaputra connecting the busiest city points with North
Guwahati should ease the movement of commuters as well as the
essential items.

Nevertheless the residents deserved to be made collaborators in the
growth and development of the entire city. All possible efforts to be
made to transform Guwahati as a Krira Prangan for the populace of
eastern India along with Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet (China),
Myanmar and Bangladesh, where the sustained peace, tranquillity and
progress can exist with no further hindrance.

The author is a senior journalist of Assam, who writes for a number of
media outlets across Asia