Guwahati, Wednesday, August 14, 2019
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Garbhanga Watershed project nears completion
Ajit Patowary
 GUWAHATI, Aug 13 - About 95 per cent of the work of the Garbhanga Watershed pilot project for managing Guwahati’s flash flood problem, has been completed with desired results. The watershed is located behind the Games Village in the city.

The project has been undertaken for demonstrating the scope of mitigating water-related hazards of Guwahati city, using Ecological Management Practices (EMP) in the hilly watersheds in accordance with a conceptual detailed project report (DPR) prepared by the Union Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD)-sponsored Centre of Excellence (CoE).

Prof Arup Kumar Sarma, BP Chaliha Chair Professor of IIT Guwahati, heads the CoE. He is also the principal investigator for the “Integrated Land use Planning and Water Resource Management (ILPWRM).”

The Garbhanga Watershed comprises both habitat and undisturbed area and the site is very close to the NH-37. It has a mixed terrain of both hills and plains. It is in a degraded condition and affects the highway. The watershed is in close vicinity of the Basistha river, which drains into the Deepar Beel. Its terrain, land use pattern and location provide a good opportunity for studying the impact of the EMP application.

The DPR of this pilot project was prepared strictly in accordance with the guidelines provided by the CoE (ILPWRM). PK Sarma, field expert under the BP Chaliha Chair Professor, and Banashree Sarma, PhD scholar, Civil Engineering Department, IITG, guided the city-based civil engineering firm Srishtie during the survey and preparation of the DPR.

After a detailed survey of the watershed, it was found that the area is being continuously encroached upon, and an unplanned and unscientific human growth was observed in the area. Besides, the area had no signs of proper roads or functional drains. Soil erosion in several locations, leading to landslides in a few areas, was also observed. People have constructed houses in an unscientific manner by cutting the hill slopes and clearing the vegetation.

As such, various problems, directly and indirectly generated by the haphazard growth, were identified and steps for addressing these problems were worked out after several rounds of site inspection and observation. There is no proper system of sewage disposal and thus the dwellers are facing an unhygienic condition too, said PK Sarma.

The total area of the watershed is 18.50 hectares, of which undisturbed forest area is 5.91 hectares and its occupied forest area is 8.82 hectares (out of which only 4 hectares can be renovated) and the size of the revenue area of the watershed under occupation is 3.77 hectares.

To calculate the population carrying capacity, which will keep a balance between built environment and natural environment, ‘SAFE’ carrying capacity model developed by the CoE at IIT Guwahati, was applied.

Later, at a committee meeting the then Additional Chief Secretary of the State Subhas Chandra Das advised the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) to execute the project.

The expenditure incurred for the project and its breakeven point were also calculated and it was also suggested that the administrative authorities should make a committee with the residents of the area so that they can maintain the area from the earnings by way of selling the products of the project and the area could be maintained well in future.

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