GUWAHATI, July 23 - Consulting engineer JN Khataniar has opposed the idea of setting up the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Changsari, claiming that the proposed site there is a natural wetland. A wetland can never be filled up to construct anything, he said.
In a statement here, Khataniar said the proposed site is a wetland spread over a vast area between Jalah village on the north and Purabi Nagar in the foothill of Kotamur Pahar on the south.
The Guwahati Waterbodies (Prevention and Conservation) Act, 2008 notified on August 8, 2008 states that �waterbodies means the area or areas of land where the rainwater accumulates and acts as natural or storm water reservoir and shall include wetland. No persons after coming into force of this Act shall construct or erect any structure in the water bodies.�
Subsequently, the said Jalah Beel wetland area in Changsari have been included within the New Town-I (wholesale) � one among three New Towns proposed in the Final Master Plan for Guwahati Metropolitan Area-2025 as per the Land Use Zoning and Development Control Regulations, which was notified by GMDA on July 7, 2009 when Himanta Biswa Sarma was Minister for Guwahati Development Department, Khataniar said.
All the hills, forest, natural streams, rivers, wetland and the entire Jalah Beel area are included within the Eco-Sensitive Zone covering 294 hectares of land, which is 20.25 per cent of the whole landmass under New Town-1.
As per reports, around 572 bighas (76 hectares) of land has already been allotted for the proposed AIIMS at this Jalah Beel area, a natural water body having huge water retention capacity during the entire monsoon period, preventing flooding on the NH-37 and the neighbouring habitations in North Guwahati.
Khataniar said the Guwahati Development Department, through an order (No. GDD.54/97/741 dated July 25, 2012), has already restricted building permissions in hilly areas, eco-sensitive and green belt areas and all existing water bodies, besides in areas within 15 metres from river banks and 10 metres from existing natural drains.
�Ignoring all the above facts, how the previous Government in the State could give its nod to destroy the entire Jalah Beel is a matter of great surprise,� wondered the engineer.
He said that 575 bighas of land is equivalent to 7,69,236.00 sq m area. �If the average depth of earth filling is considered as three metres, the total volume of filling soil will be 23,07,708 cubic metres. If the carrying capacity of a normal truck is considered as 6 cum, the total trips of truck loaded with soil will be 3,84,618.00,� Khataniar explained.
�This huge amount of filling material will be available only by destroying the nearby green hills which are under eco-sensitive zone. Can it be acceptable?� asked Khataniar.
He further wondered as to how, after filling the entire Jalah Beel area up to the required level, the displaced natural water of about 231 crore litres will be accommodated. �These are really matters of grave concern,� he said.
He was also sceptical about the preparedness of the authorities to meet flash floods which will be caused by such anthropogenic activities in North Guwahati areas.
Advocating for Raha as a site for the proposed AIIMS, Khataniar said the town is located at the centre of the North-east. �It is an environment-friendly place along the Asian Highway-1 (AH-1) and it may be treated as the most suitable place for the premier health institute,� he added.