GUWAHATI, Oct 19 - Another controversy may soon embroil the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)-assisted 37 million litres per day (MLD) North Guwahati Water Supply project. This time, the controversy concerns the location of the water pumping station and other related structures.
It has been alleged that the water pumping station is located within the very precinct of the archaeologically protected Aswaklanta Devalaya and its Bishnupada. The sites are also religiously important for Hindus, and are closely associated with several Hindu rituals.
Tapan Rai Medhi, a resident of North Guwahati�s Majgaon Auniati Satra, in a petition to the Directorate of Archaeology here has alleged that he has been told by the water supply project authorities that the Archaeology Directorate has issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC) in favour of installation of the pumping station and other structures.
Rai Medhi said that earlier he was told by the Archaeology Directorate, in the form of an RTI reply, that it has not issued any NOC for the purpose.
He has now urged the Archaeology Directorate to conduct a physical survey of the sites where construction is going on to install the pumping station.
Recently, the site in question came under focus after a mechanised country boat (bhutbhuti) capsized when it rammed against the pillars of the pumping station.
The Directorate of Archaeology, in a letter written on July 19, 2014, had told the project director of the Project Implementation Unit of the JICA-assisted GWSP that officers of the directorate had physically verified the place of the proposed water supply project adjacent to the Aswaklanta archaeological site at North Guwahati on June 25, 2014, along with Probin Borah, the site clearance officer of JICA Ltd.
During verification, it was found that the proposed plan to install a water pumping machine on the river bed of the Brahmaputra falls in the northeastern direction from the Aswaklanta Temple site brick enclosure wall, at a distance of 167 metres as per the site map. On the other hand, the proposed water treatment plant on the southwestern hillock of the site is at 191 metres distance from the ancient brick enclosure wall.
The Directorate of Archaeology, Assam is guided by the Assam Ancient Monuments and Records Act, 1959 and the Assam Ancient Monuments and Records Rules, 1964. As per the Act, minimum 100 metres from a monument is �prohibited area� and further 200 metres in all directions is �regulated area�.
Thus, the letter by the Archaeology Directorate said, �we cannot allow new construction within 300 metres, i.e. 100 metres prohibited and 200 metres regulated area from the monument�. The Directorate, in the same letter, requested the project director �to defer the proposed project beyond 300 metres in the interest of preservation of the heritage of Assam�.