SIVASAGAR, Aug 3 - Sivasagar town has become a grave threat to pedestrians and cyclists, who cannot afford the luxury of personal cars and public conveyance.
The population of Sivasagar town is around a lakh, while the motorised vehicle population is increasing fast while the sleepy temple town’s narrow streets are getting narrower by the day with a spurt in new shops and market complexes coming up all along the roads. Where there are footpaths, pedestrians cannot use them as vendors and shop owners use the same to display their wares in order to attract customers.
It seems the Sivasagar Municipal Board is totally oblivious to the collective plight of the pedestrians, as poor men and women from rural areas come to the town every day as it goes on permitting everyone to ply his battery rickshaw and put up shops everywhere.
Neither the Municipal Board nor the District Transport Authority has any control over the battery rickshaws plying in the town. Rows of private cars pausing as taxis and super buses are lined up near the ASTC point and in front of the Marowari Milan Mandir, that obviously makes the usable portion of the AT Road even more narrower and risky for the pedestrians.
The buses do not comply with the government instruction of maintaining minimum distance from the ASTC premises. The bus operators not only drop and pick up passengers, but also use the stand for washing and cleaning the buses, which considerably impede the traffic flow.
The Style Bazar, Vishal and Trends, the big stores that have been allowed to operate at three different places have increased traffic woes as they do not comply with the rules and regulations formulated by the Municipal Board. Non of them keep the customers’ cars at their parking slots.
The traffic congestion right in front of chairperson Mridusmita Sinha’s residence increased manifold when Style Bazar was thrown open a couple of months back. There has been no action taken in this regard to clear the congestion on the Hospital Road too. A large number of vehicles are seen parked permanently in front of Indian Bank, Laksmi Hardware, Mahadevi Medicals and Central Market complex by the roadside, thereby disturbing the flow of traffic.
Surprisingly, when a poor villager brings some vegetables to sell, he has to cough up a tax of Rs10 to Rs 20 for a four sq ft space along the roadside, but the aforementioned vehicles are allowed free parking along the roadside for years on end.
There is no systematic policy of traffic management in the town. The Bhuban Chandra Gogoi Road that connects Nazira and Charaideo is one of the busiest streets in Assam as it connects ONGC in Nazira, GAIL, Lakwa and Namrup Thermal Power plants, Simaluguri Junction of the NFR, numerous tea estates, the coal and stone quarries along the Assam-Nagaland border, Sonari town and the Namrup Fetilizer Company. A number of huge trailers and other heavy vehicles plying on the road to and from these industries often throw traffic in the Station Chariali area off gear. For the pedestrians, there is no footpath on either side of the road, which could have considerably eased the traffic congestion.
In place of a footpath, there is a mile-long dustbin originally constructed as a major drain by spending an amount of Rs 80 lakh from near the ONGC set-up here. The money, the locals claim, has all gone waste, i.e., literally down the drain. The Jamuna canal too does not carry rainwater as it does not have a gradient. There are no footpaths on the sides of AT Road either from Dikhow bridge to Darika bridge and the pedestrians’ plight is palpable. The congestion at Station Chariali turns worse during office hours, but the police remains indifferent!