GUWAHATI, Aug 2 – Growing deforestation in the foothills along the Assam-Meghalaya border has worsened the problem of flash floods in the city’s Panjabari area. The situation has now come to such a pass that even a short burst of shower is enough to inundate the Panjabari-Narengi Road and most of the by-lanes in the greater Panjabari area.
A major part of the Panjabari road stayed under water on Saturday afternoon after a half-an-hour spell of rain. Similar was the state of the by-lanes in the area. In fact, in parts of the FA Ahmed Road and Juripar by-lanes, the storm-water did not recede till this evening.
Significantly, the inundation did not take place during or immediately after the rain. It was after some interval that the rain water slowly began to rise, flooding the main road as well as the by-lanes. Residents of the area have attributed the phenomenon to huge run-off of rain water from the nearby hills of Jorabat and Meghalaya – caused mostly by rampant deforestation in the hills.
The problem has further been compounded by lack of sufficient drainage at Panjabari and the shrinkage of wetlands to its north that once used to serve as a natural storm water basin.
“The menace of waterlogging has certainly worsened in recent years. The flash floods are more frequent than before and the citizens’ woes are compounded by the waterlogging that is more prolonged. Thanks to the unabated deforestation on the hills, especially those in Meghalaya, the water run-off flows to the plains unhindered and consequently in great volumes,” Rajiv Sharma, a local resident said.
Sharma said that the filling up of the wetlands and the inadequate drainage of the area were adding to the severity of waterlogging. “When rainwater comes in great volumes, the existing drains simply cannot take the load. Moreover, the destruction of the wetlands has contributed a lot towards deteriorating the situation,” he added.
A Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) official said that construction of drains in the by-lanes of the area was in progress and that should ease the situation to an extent. Residents, however, are skeptic and feel that constructing a few small drains here and there would be of little practical utility unless a thorough revamp of the existing drainage was done. They also underscored the need for according protection to the wetlands, forests and hills.
S Ahmed, another resident said that the authorities also needed to take up the matter of deforestation in Meghalaya with their counterparts in the neighbouring State in the right earnest. Even the hilly area of Jorabat faces regular waterlogging these days.
“Deforestation in the hills of Meghalaya has a lot to do with flash floods at Panjabari. Our Government and the district administration must take up the matter with the Meghalaya Government at the earliest,” he said.
The aggravating situation can be gauged from the fact that new areas of greater Panjabari are increasingly bearing the brunt of flash floods and prolonged waterlogging. “Our by-lane had no previous record of waterlogging but of late it has become a recurring phenomenon. Worse, the water does not recede quickly, adding to the woes of the people,” Deepali Sharma, a resident of FA Ahmed Road said.