GUWAHATI, June 1 � The popular perception about the rise in the Bharalu bed level is not correct. The bed level of the river has not gone up by 10 to 12 feet between the Jonali Bridge Point on the R G Baruah Road and the Bhangagarh Bridge Point on the Guwahati-Shillong Road as believed by the people, said Water Resources Department (WRD) engineers here.
Reasoning, the WRD engineers, who are engaged in cleaning the Bharalu, said the difference in the river�s bed level between Jonali Bridge Point and Santipur Sluice Gate Point, after de-siltation, is found to be of around 1.95 metre, that is, around 6.5 feet. They maintained that one of the major factors that have contributed to the elimination of the Bharalu system�s original water holding capacity is conversion of most of its flood plains and the swampy area connected with it into human habitats. This is one of the major reasons for flash flood in the RG Baruah localities, observed the WRD engineers.
The practice of earth cutting in the hills in and around the Bharalu basin is another major factor that has reduced the river system�s water holding capacity, together with the practice of using the river as a dustbin by the Guwahatians and the visitors to the city.
But, during the last five years, regular cleaning and de-siltation programmes and the removal of the bridges and the water pipes and cables laid over it at low heights have increased the discharge capacity of the river.
However, the girder of the Jonali Bridge is posing problems by obstructing free flow of the river water during the rainy days. The WRD has been pleading with the authorities to arrange for diversion of the drain that is running from the Guwahati Refinery effluent discharge point, with a cross-culvert, a few metres upstream of its confluence with the Bharalu. This is required to maintain the velocity of the waters carried by the drain and the Bahini, WRD engineers said.
The WRD is now carrying out a cleaning and de-siltation programme in the 5.6 km-long reach of the river between its Jonali Bridge Point and the Santipur Sluice Gate. The programme also includes the components of maintenance and repair of about 18 sluice gates along the banks of the river, excluding the Santipur one, sources said.