Guwahati, Wednesday, June 14, 2017
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Monsoon’s first deluge claims 2 lives in city

Vehicles navigate through a flooded street in Guwahati on Tuesday. – UB Photos
 GUWAHATI, June 13 - Heavy downpour since last night brought Guwahati to a virtual standstill today disrupting normal life and killing two persons, including a minor, in an incident of flash flood-induced electrocution near the Assam State Zoo. The Kamrup (Metro) district administration has identified the deceased as Pushan Kalita, a Class-VIII student of Maria Montessori School and Anowar Hussain, a rickshaw puller.

Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner Dr M Angamuthu has ordered an inquiry into the incident of electrocution. Additional Deputy Commissioner Palash Pratim Bora will conduct the inquiry. An ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of each of the deceased has also been announced by the district administration.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has been continuously monitoring the catastrophic situation even as the Guwahati City Police has made an arrangement for night patrolling in the flash flood-hit areas using boats. Sonowal has directed the district administration and other agencies to strictly monitor the situation and take prompt measures as deemed fit.

Rainwater inundated many localities and led to miles-long traffic jams on the arterial roads of the city, and in the process exposed hollowness of the tall claims of the government and local authorities of having undertaken steps to prevent such a catastrophe.

Waterlogging was reported from Anil Nagar, Nabin Nagar, RG Baruah Road, parts of GS Road, MRD/GNB Road in Chandmari and Guwahati Club areas, VIP Road, Kahilipara, Bamunimaidam, Noonmati, Ambari, Six Mile, Sarumataria, Wireless, Fancy Bazar, Ulubari, Dr B Borooah Road and parts of Santipur and Gandhibasti areas, among other places.

Among the worst affected were office-goers, students, daily wage earners and others who had to wade through streets which resembled water bodies. Many vehicles had engine failure while trying to navigate through flooded stretches.

There were reports of minor landslides from many places as well as incidents of guard walls collapsing. Officials said that minor landslides took place at Bonda, Nizarapar, Kamakhya, Hengrabari and Maligaon.

However, officials in the district administration and the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) said that there are so far no reports of any casualties from anywhere in the city from such incidents.

“Very heavy rainfall has been reported in the city and its spread is almost uniform covering the entire city. Waterlogging and inundation have been reported at various places in the city,” Dr Angamuthu, who is also the chairman of DDMA, said.

He said pumps have been pressed into service to flush out rainwater from localities, and drain cleaning and emergency services are continuously going on. As per data from the Water Resources Department, there was 68 mm rainfall in Khanapara since last night, 73 mm in Rehabari and 69 mm in Gandhi Mandap, he said.

The GNB Road along the southern boundary of the Guwahati Refinery and near the main gate of the Bamunimaidam FCI Godown was also inundated. Rainwater entered the Arya Vidyapeeth College campus. NDRF and SDRF have been kept on alert to deal with any contingency, sources said.

“This is only the start of the monsoon season and already this has happened. It proves that all the recent announcements about schemes to prevent artificial flooding in Guwahati are nothing but hogwash,” said social activist and Nabin Nagar resident Dwip Baruah. He said Senduri Ali in his locality resembled a river with water everywhere and people were forced to keep indoors.

“Nothing will happen unless concrete steps are taken, including diversion of water from Meghalaya hills to Silsako Beel and Deepor Beel, increasing the retaining capacity of the city’s water bodies, creating artificial channels for diversion of rainwater and installation of silt traps in the hill areas,” he said.

At many places, cabs, auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws used the opportunity of waterlogging to charge exorbitant rates from commuters. City buses were forced to stop commuting at Guwahati Club and near Gauhati Commerce College for some time due to rising water levels.

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