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High on �smart city� hope, Guwahati falters on basic civic issues

By MAMATA MISHRA
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GUWAHATI, Dec 30 - Amidst high hope of transformation of the State�s capital city, Guwahati made a little progress in 2017 so far as civic amenities and other citizen-friendly services are concerned.

A �smart city� in the making under the Central government�s initiative, Guwahati was seen grappling with several perennial problems which are getting worse with passing time.

Like previous years, this year too, the monsoon brought extensive problems for the citizens, and the situation deteriorated further with the occurrence of artificial floods. Some people in the city also lost their lives when power supply lines snapped and fell in floodwaters.

The monsoon�s first deluge on June 13 claimed two lives on RG Baruah Road. The deaths were caused by flash flood-induced electrocution. Within a span of nine days, another man died on Sugam Path near RG Baruah Road after getting electrocuted. He was passing through the water-logged Sugam Path on June 22.

As the steps taken so far to address the artificial flood problem in the city proved grossly inadequate, as many as seven people lost their lives this year due to this problem. Incidents of landslides were also taken place in many parts of the city which lacks adequate storm water drainage system.

These are not the end of problems faced by the citizens of Guwahati. Crisis of drinking water is another lingering issue which continues to undermine the government�s claim of supply of drinking water to the citizens 24x7.

Technical snags in the Kamakhya and Panbazar water treatment plants under the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) in the second half of the year gave a harrowing time to the citizens once again. The situation aggravated further by multiple leakages in the old pipelines.

The ambitious West Guwahati Water Supply Scheme that was supposed to start functioning from this year has been slated for June 2018 opening. The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), the implementing agency, has also set a new deadline for the Central Guwahati Water Supply Scheme which is supposed to start from December next.

For the East Guwahati Water Supply Scheme, even the deadline is not in sight with the authorities concerned claiming to complete it by 2021.

Meanwhile, the roads dug up in East and Central Guwahati for laying the pipelines are causing immense problems to the citizens. The road construction projects suffered a setback during the year due to lack of availability of construction materials, apart from other factors.

On the traffic front, the citizens found some solace with the Gauhati High Court banning protest and picketing on the southern end of the historic tank, which caused massive traffic jam in the city. Following a PIL filed by the Lawyers� Association, Guwahati, the court directed the administration to find another place for such activities.

Walking zone created on the 1.5-kilometre stretch of MG Road along the Brahmaputra was another experience for the Guwahatians. The initiative received both brickbats and accolades from people.

The overall conservancy services seemed to have improved a bit following a tussle between GMC and some NGOs involved in the door-to-door garbage collection. Total 17 NGOs moved the court on the issue of renewal of contract.

Guwahati was declared �open defecation free� zone in August this year and GMC also made the singing of national anthem compulsory in all its offices before starting the day�s work.

On the other hand, the Swachh Survekshan 2018 was launched in December for making Guwahati the cleanest city under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

For those awaiting metro rides in the city, the project now has an extended corridor up to the AIIMS site at Changsari.

However, in view of the Centre�s Metro Rail Policy 2017, a lot remains to be done on that front, including preparation of a unified metropolitan transport authority and a comprehensive mobility plan.

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High on �smart city� hope, Guwahati falters on basic civic issues

GUWAHATI, Dec 30 - Amidst high hope of transformation of the State�s capital city, Guwahati made a little progress in 2017 so far as civic amenities and other citizen-friendly services are concerned.

A �smart city� in the making under the Central government�s initiative, Guwahati was seen grappling with several perennial problems which are getting worse with passing time.

Like previous years, this year too, the monsoon brought extensive problems for the citizens, and the situation deteriorated further with the occurrence of artificial floods. Some people in the city also lost their lives when power supply lines snapped and fell in floodwaters.

The monsoon�s first deluge on June 13 claimed two lives on RG Baruah Road. The deaths were caused by flash flood-induced electrocution. Within a span of nine days, another man died on Sugam Path near RG Baruah Road after getting electrocuted. He was passing through the water-logged Sugam Path on June 22.

As the steps taken so far to address the artificial flood problem in the city proved grossly inadequate, as many as seven people lost their lives this year due to this problem. Incidents of landslides were also taken place in many parts of the city which lacks adequate storm water drainage system.

These are not the end of problems faced by the citizens of Guwahati. Crisis of drinking water is another lingering issue which continues to undermine the government�s claim of supply of drinking water to the citizens 24x7.

Technical snags in the Kamakhya and Panbazar water treatment plants under the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) in the second half of the year gave a harrowing time to the citizens once again. The situation aggravated further by multiple leakages in the old pipelines.

The ambitious West Guwahati Water Supply Scheme that was supposed to start functioning from this year has been slated for June 2018 opening. The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), the implementing agency, has also set a new deadline for the Central Guwahati Water Supply Scheme which is supposed to start from December next.

For the East Guwahati Water Supply Scheme, even the deadline is not in sight with the authorities concerned claiming to complete it by 2021.

Meanwhile, the roads dug up in East and Central Guwahati for laying the pipelines are causing immense problems to the citizens. The road construction projects suffered a setback during the year due to lack of availability of construction materials, apart from other factors.

On the traffic front, the citizens found some solace with the Gauhati High Court banning protest and picketing on the southern end of the historic tank, which caused massive traffic jam in the city. Following a PIL filed by the Lawyers� Association, Guwahati, the court directed the administration to find another place for such activities.

Walking zone created on the 1.5-kilometre stretch of MG Road along the Brahmaputra was another experience for the Guwahatians. The initiative received both brickbats and accolades from people.

The overall conservancy services seemed to have improved a bit following a tussle between GMC and some NGOs involved in the door-to-door garbage collection. Total 17 NGOs moved the court on the issue of renewal of contract.

Guwahati was declared �open defecation free� zone in August this year and GMC also made the singing of national anthem compulsory in all its offices before starting the day�s work.

On the other hand, the Swachh Survekshan 2018 was launched in December for making Guwahati the cleanest city under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

For those awaiting metro rides in the city, the project now has an extended corridor up to the AIIMS site at Changsari.

However, in view of the Centre�s Metro Rail Policy 2017, a lot remains to be done on that front, including preparation of a unified metropolitan transport authority and a comprehensive mobility plan.