|Experts for holistic plan to tackle problems|
GUWAHATI, July 19 – Experts at a meeting organised by the State BJP today to find out a solution to the city’s perennial urban floods advocated an effective drainage besides preserving the city’s ecology and easing the pressure on the city by developing its outskirts in a planned manner.
Earlier, initiating the discussion held at the Lakshmiram Baruah Sadan, BJP MP from Guwahati, Bijoya Chakravarty said that funds would no longer be a constraint for the purpose, as the DoNER Ministry had Rs 63,000 crore in the non-lapsable pool which were to be utilised within the next nine months.
“We need to come up with a holistic plan and submit a detailed DPR to DoNER for implementation. We can rid Guwahati of its perennial and worsening flood problem within two years if we have a realistic project,” Chakravarty said.
Prof Arup Sarma of IIT-Guwahati who has extensively studied the city’s urban flood problem, attributed the phenomenon to the city’s unscientific, haphazard development that cared little for preserving the sanctity of its natural environment in the form of hills, forests and water-bodies.
“A solution to the problem will also have to look at not just the engineering aspects but also the socio-economic factors such as the city’s mounting need-driven population, growing settlements on eco-sensitive zones, loss of vegetation and its impact on water yield and silt accumulation, etc.,” he said.
Prof Sarma said that a holistic approach involving an effective drainage, afforestation in the hills, rainwater harvesting, silt trap, and scientific garbage disposal was the need of the hour.
Engineer JN Khataniar, in his address, suggested construction of big drains along the stretches below the hills surrounding the city and channelising the huge amounts of rainwater to the Brahmaputra and the Deepor Beel. He also said there should be water reservoirs on the hills for regulating the flow of rainwater from the hills.
“These apart, we need to plan and develop a new Guwahati by expanding the city into various directions, as the present Guwahati is no longer in a position to bear the burden of the unscientific growth over the last four decades starting with the shifting of the State capital from Shillong to Guwahati,” he added.
Khataniar also said that along with adoption of a master plan taking into account the city’s growth for the next fifty years, restrictions should also be imposed on land use. “This has not been done when we adopted the last master plan, which anyway is far from a foolproof document,” he said.
Prof Hiralal Duarah, while attributing the sorry state of affairs to lack of proper urban planning, said that constant vigilance, land survey and well-defined land-use were a dire need under the prevailing circumstances.
Prof AK Borbora and Prof PK Sarma, among others, addressed the meeting.