DIBRUGARH, April 16 - Despite sitting on the accolade of being the richest district in the State, Dibrugarh suffers from severe infrastructure shortages. The district has till now produced three Chief Ministers (actually four, if Golap Chandra Borbora is to be taken into count, as Tinsukia district did not exist when he was CM) and at least two Assembly Speakers and numerous State and Central ministers. That is Dibrugarh�s political achievement.
But take roads, bridges, industry, railroads, power sector and medical and educational infrastructure, Dibrugarh is lagging behind in all these. Local organisations like the Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha, Senior Citizens� Council and others often petition the district administration and the State Government, seeking remedies. However, as is routine, hardly anybody listens to the demands of the citizens. An office bearer of the Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha, which keeps writing petitions to various authorities ranging from the Prime Minister to the Chief Minister to the local DC, says it is (writing for the development of the society) has become a �frustrating exercise�.
Though the authorities mostly turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the requirements of society at large, people�s groups do keep imploring the authorities to build a road here, a power substation there, etc. For example, people of the Khowang area in the district last week invited reporters to write about their long standing demand for roads and bridges in the Moran LAC area that would benefit lakh of indigenous population. The people there reiterated their demand for a new bridge over the Buri Dehing at Sessughat, and strengthening and widening of the Borboruah Ali (road). This road and the bridge, if built, would benefit more than 400 villages, and would also offer an alternative road on the Dibrugarh�Moran�Demow axis.
Meanwhile, despite being officially apprised along with all supporting documents, the Assam Chief Minister�s office has been found wanting in facilitating the construction of a vital power substation at Jiban Phukan Nagar here. This power utility, if commissioned, would vastly improve electricity distribution in almost a fourth of Dibrugarh city. But departmental apathy to put up the project may only end up in a World Bank assisted work getting fizzled away. The only obstacle to the setting up of this power utility is the allocation of two bighas of land for the project. This plot, as it belongs to a tea estate, needs clearance from the Chief Minister. The matter is stuck there.
Civil groups here have also suggested to the State Government that the current BJP ministers need to seriously consider doing away with the wasteful exercise of �foundation stone laying� ceremonies. Roads, bridges, public utilities should at best have commissioning functions, whereby society stand to get to use the facilities. As has been seen, �foundation stone laying� or ground breaking ceremonies often turn up to be jokes as projects do not take off even decades after such ceremonies. Veteran journalists who have covered politicians� functions, also agree that having a �commissioning ceremony� is a much better idea, and could well be the change the Sonowal government promised the voters of Assam about a year ago.
As for infrastructure shortages here, the list is pretty exhaustive. But mention can be made, on the basis of popular public demand here: upgradation of the AMC to a multi disciplinary medical university, an Indian Institute of Information Technology, a college of advanced engineering and architecture, an integrated sports town with training and coaching facilities, a logistics park on the Bogibeel approach, a model plastic park to take advantage of the gas cracker unit, and a national institute for agriculture and pisciculture. Citizens� groups here are also pressing for widening of all major roads in and around the city to four lane capacities and to increase the width of all roads to at least 10 metre width, along with footpath cum drains on either sides, so as to somewhat cope with anticipated traffic growth.