GUWAHATI, June 12 - Solutions to Guwahati’s problems due to lack of open spaces lie, among others, in expanding the city areas in a scientific manner with a smart city approach so that further concentration of human habitations in the existing limits of the city could be prevented.
Moreover, the major part of the infrastructure of State capital Dispur should be shifted to the new smart city, keeping some infrastructure at the Dispur complex that are regularly accessed by the public.
This observation was made by senior engineer and social activist Jyotirindra Narayan Khataniar during a lecture yesterday at the Pragjyoti ITA Centre for Performing Arts in Machkhowa.
The lecture on Guwahati's open spaces was organised by the Pragjyoti Sanskritik Samaj on the occasion of the Citizens’ Day it observes every year.
Khataniar said the main reason behind Guwahati alarmingly suffering from the lack of adequate open spaces is the hurried decision to shift the State capital to it by using a few existing godowns at Dispur and subsequently notifying the site as the location for the permanent capital.
This decision and the follow-up actions were taken without a long-term master plan and scientific visions based on the ground realities.
Immediately after shifting of the capital from Shillong, the authorities should have prepared a long-term master plan for Guwahati, considering the scientific projection of its population for the said period.
There was also the need to introduce a new set of construction by-laws with strict rules and regulations along with guidelines for the entire Guwahati city, immediately after shifting of the capital. But that was also ignored and some old construction by-laws prepared for the Guwahati Municipal Board in 1962-63 were followed till 1998.
The GMDA was formed in 1986. But surprisingly, it became operational in 1992 and a new set of construction by-laws was released in 1998. This was followed by the GMC too.
Guwahati witnessed tremendous development before 2006 with group housing concepts flourishing. This made the tall buildings getting construction permission based on the 1998 construction bye-laws easier under the GMDA/GMC. But the 1998 by-laws have a lot of loopholes.
The city got its long-term Master Plan 2025 in 2009 - after 36 years of the shifting of the State capital to Guwahati. But this master plan also failed to highlight the need of open spaces as recommended by the World Health Organisation, even though it laid stress on the need for expanding the area of the city from the existing 262 square km to 328 square km till 2025.
The 2011 bid to delineate the new metropolitan region of the city has considered, among others, the need to limit urban settlements. But results of such exercises are yet to be notified, said Khataniar.