GUWAHATI, Feb 14 - Roads and footpaths are meant for commuters. Or is it? In wannabe smart city Guwahati, everything and everyone – except for the hapless pedestrians – has staked claim to the footpaths and portions of the roads.As if the menace of vendors and traders is not enough, the roads and lanes in the city are being increasingly used to hoard materials like pebbles, sand, bricks etc., particularly near construction sites.
The heap of materials not only blocks the footpath, but also usurps a portion of the road, in many cases rendering it a one-way route.
Recently, stocks of sand and pebbles were noticed at several places on the Hengerabari-Japorigog-RG Baruah Road section. At places, materials are seen lying for days together and construction workers carry out their work virtually from the road. Traffic jams have become increasingly common on such roads and lanes in the city due to the problem.
“The people who indulge in such acts have no civic sense at all. The whole of the footpath is blocked. People are forced to walk along the middle of the road, which is so hazardous, given the way people, particularly motorcyclists, drive in Guwahati. Students who walk to school are very vulnerable at such places,” said Anuj Pegu, a resident of Japorigog.
The menace has posed risks for motorcyclists as well. “The sand and pebbles spread all around the road and it becomes slippery. If you do not ride carefully, you might skid and meet with an accident,” said a youth who rides to office every day.
Observers say portions of the materials stored on the footpaths or nearby, find their way down to the underground drains and this is a contributing factor to the problem of flash floods in the city.
“The Kamrup district administration should take strict action against those who create public nuisance on streets. During the night, these spots become nothing but death traps for the commuters. I wonder what the authorities are doing or if at all they are bothered. You cannot indulge in such acts in other metros or cities outside the State,” said Bidyut Goswami of Chandmari.
When contacted, Kamrup Metro Deputy Commissioner Dr M Angamuthu admitted people cannot dump materials on footpaths and along roads. “In fact, the Guwahati Municipal Corporation or the PWD (Roads) can clear and confiscate the materials,” he said.
Officials in the administration also blamed people for not bringing such issues to the notice of the authorities.
But many citizens, who this reporter spoke to, have argued as to why the administration or the GMC can’t have a monitoring mechanism to prevent such acts. “Unless the administration is stern, these things will continue to happen and smart city will be a distant dream,” they said.