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City�s pitiable preparedness for flash floods exposed yet again

By STAFF Reporter

GUWAHATI, June 15 - The flash floods that yet again exposed Guwahati�s pitiable preparedness to face the recurring deluge, have brought to the fore the larger issue of a commoner�s safety despite the authorities spending huge sums of public money on cleaning the drains/channels, flood mitigation and disaster management every year.

With thousands marooned and as many as four lives lost due to the artificial floods, people are questioning whether drain cleaning and de-siltation in Guwahati have turned into superficial exercises, without addressing the core of the issue with proper scientific planning.

�We speak of metro rail in Guwahati and don�t have our drainage and sewerage system in place. The gap between the ever-rising road level and the sinking plinth level of old houses of Guwahati exposes sloppy developmental work. The condition of our beels and marshy land has been totally ignored. No wonder flood ravages the city so frequently,� social activist Ajoy Dutta said.

The authorities, however, are planning a massive campaign to make people aware of the do�s and don�ts during such inundation. �Loss of life is unfortunate. But, this could have been avoided with some precautions. We are planning a massive campaign on safety and other mechanisms, besides gearing up our machinery further,� Kamrup Metro DC Dr M Angamuthu told The Assam Tribune.

He however also appealed for support of the people in adhering to the safety norms like fixing any loose electricity connection or hanging or live wire inside private properties.

People, however, were enraged over lack of action by the administration during the crucial hours, when the citizens, mainly elderly people, school children, patients and others were stuck up in the deluge.

As their preparedness fell flat, the authorities should have at least come to the rescue of people trapped in knee-deep water in the middle of the city.

�As I watched my belongings, including the schoolbag of my child floating away in the floodwater, I could only think of keeping my feet firmly on the road and taking my child to safety amid the gushing waves created by passing vehicles,� a flood victim in Ambari area stated.

When contacted, NDRF authorities informed that a team of 40 personnel with six rubber boats and one fast rescue craft had been stationed at Kacharighat. �We operate after instructions from the district administration to help in rescue work. We would have definitely jumped into action, had the administration felt such a need,� NDRF sources said.

As another bout of downpour on Thursday afternoon hit the city, the situation deteriorated further. The floodwater that had receded from most of the affected areas, except the localities by the Mora Bharalu stretch, till Thursday morning, once again inundated many of the city areas.

After the flood, the GMC is busy removing the silt that flowed down from the hills with the storm runoff and clogged the drains. �Extra workforce has been engaged to clean the drains and make them workable in all six divisions of the Corporation. With existing water bodies unable to bear the load of floodwater, cleaning the outlets is the only solution at present,� GMC Mayor Mrigen Sarania said.

Though the authorities claimed doing everything possible to restore normalcy, the citizens complained about the administration focusing on a few areas that grab media attention most of the time.

�Rescue and rehabilitation is concentrated around Anil Nagar and Nabin Nagar, whereas people of several other areas like Panbazar, Hatigaon, Kahilipara, Ambari, Panjabari and Lokhra also reel under waterlogging with equal intensity,� Manoram Das, a resident of Panbazar area said.

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