DIBRUGARH, July 16 - Assam’s second-biggest city has suffered much due to waterlogging after every smart shower. RG Baruah, the founder of the Assam Tribune Group, started The Assam Tribune from here in 1939 because Dibrugarh was the place to be in, in those days. The deterioration of the city began with the AGP Government days, and today, despite the State having a Chief Minister from here, this city is reeling in all-round misery.
The Assam Urban Infrastructure Investment Programme (AUIIP) was supposed to improve urban living conditions in Guwahati and Dibrugarh. But the status of work progress here just points to incompetence of the highest order, followed by nepotism and lack of a vision. The AUIIP has taken up two big ticket projects here: improvement of drainage and solid waste management. In the past three years, nothing much has been achieved other than clearance of water hyacinths from the main drain here and plastic garbage in certain sections from the second main drain.
The Rs 169 crore first phase contract was awarded to Corsun Corvium of Spain. After three years and almost zero work progress, the company had awarded sub-contract to the KK Spun Pipes of Ballabgarh, Haryana. Later, the company engaged five local contractors and their works have now come to a standstill, following public objections to the design of the renovation work.
Meanwhile, initial tendering-related work on the phase II of the Dibrugarh main drain work, estimated to cost about Rs 240 crore, has begun in right earnest. To the surprise of all concerned, ad-hoc survey works and haphazard selection of feeder drains have come to light. The Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha has urged the Deputy Commissioner to initiate steps to halt all works, before a drainage master plan is prepared.
It will surprise the five lakh citizens of greater Dibrugarh once they learn that this city, in 70 years since Independence, does not have a drainage master plan. It has been seen that many drains have been built in the city during the past 15 years. However, the problems of the common man still continue.
The AUIIP schemes are funded by the World Bank loans. Deputy Commissioner, Laya Madduri here, is therefore all the more serious that this money should be prudently spent. She is known to have questioned the palliative planning of the drainage and solid waste management projects, and has urged the engineers to do long-term planning as such type of funds may not be available again in the near future.
The Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha (DNS) and the Policy Group for People's Rights, two active civic groups here, have urged the DC to initiate a total re-think on the Phase -II of the Dibrugarh main drain improvement works. DNS vice-president Ajoy Baruah and secretary Ron Duarah said that the authorities may think of a workable and more efficient alternative to streamline rain water drainage here. The Sangha is of the view that a reservoir may be dug near Lalukagaon, from where the rainwater can be pumped into the Brahmaputra. The Sangha said this would help the thousands of families of the greater Borpothar localities, where rainwater from the city wreaks havoc on the paddy fields in the suburbs.