GUWAHATI, July 12 - The president of Assam Real Estate and Infrastructure Developers� Association, PK Sarma, has stressed the need to free the city hills and wetlands from encroachment in order to prevent the recurrence of flash floods.
Talking to this correspondent, Sarma, also a co-chairman of the Indian Green Building Council, Guwahati, maintained that apart from the disposal of plastic waste and the environmental depredation in Meghalaya, one of the major causes of artificial floods is the wanton destruction of the eco-sensitive hills and wetlands in and around Guwahati, which has wreaked the ecosystem of the city.
Some research works have already proved that illegal activities and destruction of forests are causing the loss of nearly 50 tonnes of soil per hectare every year and this ultimately results in clogging of natural drainage channels, Sarma claimed.
Moreover, illegal encroachment on drainage channels, wetlands, hills and forests has made life miserable for law-abiding citizens, as proved by the AC Neilson report. The Neilson Report was first referred to by the then Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup (Metro) in an affidavit submitted to the Gauhati High Court in December 2013 in a suo moto case taken up by the Court on solving the problem of encroachment on the city hills (PIL 36/2011). The Neilson survey found in 2009 that there were 65,894 illegal buildings on 16 city hills.
The survey also found that 71 per cent of the city�s private structures were on government land, and 18 per cent of such structures existed on reserve forest land of the city. Thus, 89 per cent of the private structures in the city have been illegally built on government land, Sarma pointed out.
He regretted that a July 31, 2014 Gauhati High Court order in PIL 44/2011 is not being followed in right earnest these days by the authorities concerned after the massive drive to free the city�s natural channels from encroachment in 2014.
The Gauhati High Court had said in the order, �We wish to observe that steps must be taken regularly, vigorously and in rigour and spirit on day to day basis to ensure that waterlogging is reduced to its minimum and the residents of Guwahati should not be put to any inconvenience, injury and suffering on account of waterlogging in coming days. This work should be done on priority basis and it has to be attended to at least till monsoon is completely over.
�So far as long term measures are concerned, a comprehensive plan should be submitted by the respondent-authorities. Day to day report of the work done to remedy the situation is to be submitted by the next date of hearing so that this Court is able to know the steps taken to remedy the situation,� said the High Court.
Sarma expressed the hope that the new State Government would act in earnest to solve the problem of flash floods in the city once and for all.