GUWAHATI, July 25 - The State government�s plan to construct a convention centre-cum-State guest house at the site of the Guwahati Circuit House and State-run Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok on the bank of the Brahmaputra has been resented by many of the old residents of Guwahati. The State administration has already started demolishing the original century-old Assam type structure of the Circuit House, besides the decades-old multi-storey structure of the Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok.
Many heritage lovers, working under the banner of Heritage Conservation Society of Assam (HeCSA), have pointed out that this structure has become a part of the historical heritage of the Guwahatians. The site is important from the environmental point of view also. It has a good number of old trees. These trees had been planted by various authorities since the days of the British rule. They form part of the city�s natural heritage. It is learnt that to construct the convention centre, most of these trees would have to be felled.
Meanwhile, several leading citizens of the greater Uzanbazar area have urged Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to drop the plan for construction of a convention centre at the Circuit House site in the �better interest of Guwahati city and its residents�. They requested the Chief Minister �to take steps to relocate the proposed building in some other place of the city without disturbing the citizens� life and living�.
Voluntary organisation Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG) has demanded a white paper on the city riverfront. Enough has been said and done on the city riverfront. Now it is time to know exactly what the government wants to do with the city riverfront. It should tell the people of the city in categorical terms whether or not it is for abiding by the court order on the city riverfront, a common property of the Guwahatians and which has become an inseparable part of their cultural and historical heritage, SGBG said.
The Guwahatians are not ready to sacrifice their historical and cultural heritage linked with the Brahmaputra and places like Itakhuli and Andharu Bali. Itakhuli is the place where the Circuit House is located and Andharu Bali is the place between the Nilachal hillock and Sukreswar Ghat. Both these places are connected with the valiant resistance offered by the Assamese forces to the Mughal forces, said SGBG president Krishno Kanto Borooah, vice president Ajoy Dutta and advisor Dhiren Baruah.
They also demanded that the right of the Guwahatians over the Brahmaputra riverfront be acknowledged and they be granted free access to the riverfront by providing it with modern walkways, parks, etc., without any delay.
The SGBG office-bearers while talking to this newspaper asserted that there is a Supreme Court directive that there cannot be any construction on the bank of the Brahmaputra in the city. The Guwahati Master Plan 2001 also stated clearly that there should not be any construction on the bank of the Brahmaputra on the stretch between the Kamakhya foothills and the Raj Bhawan. Only parks and playgrounds could be set up there.
The State government, vide a notification on December 24, 2004, banned felling of trees and construction of buildings on the bank of the Brahmaputra on the stretch between the Kamakhya foothills and the Raj Bhawan, said the SGBG office-bearers. They, however, maintained that the old structures like the Assam type building of the Circuit House, the two-storey structure of the residence of the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court, etc., should be preserved and developed as museums and the other structures on the bank of the Brahmaputra should be removed, relocating the institutions and offices working under their roofs to other places.
The signatories of the appeal who include former Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) chairman and SGBG advisor Dhiren Baruah, former Rajya Sabha MP Indramoni Bora, noted musician Ramen Barua, noted artiste Kiron Barua, social workers Reeta Bhuyan and Nilima Kakati and former civil servant Jagannath Das, among others, described the decision of the State government as a damaging one. It will not only wipe out the AT building of the Circuit House, which is a heritage structure, but will also damage the entire socio-cultural atmosphere of the greater Uzanbazar area and block access of Guwahatians to the riverfront on this part, they said.