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PIL against raising of road levels

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Aug 22 � The constant practice of raising the levels of the city roads has led to the sinking of the plinth levels of the houses located along these roads and water logging even is some newly built areas.

Countless number of individual houses built with lifelong savings, have suffered irreversible damage. Many families have to shift to other areas while a few have or had to sell off their properties in view of the deteriorating situation.

This is despite the fact that in many cities of the country, roads have been repaired, re-surfaced etc, without ever raising the level of the said roads. The Park Street, Chowringhee, Chittaranjan Avenue etc in the city of Kolkata can be easily cited as examples. So also, the roads in and around Connaught Place, around Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, India Gate, Rajghat etc in Delhi can be cited as further examples.

These roads, as well as the footpaths or pedestrian pavements by the side of these roads, have remained at the same level over the last several decades or maybe from the time of their construction. It is not that these roads have never undergone repairs or re-surfacing. But such repair and re-surfacing works have been done after excavation and removal of the old layers.

The standard engineering practice is to remove the damaged layers of the roads and to relay the same with fresh layers. As such, the practice followed in Guwahati as well as other urban areas of the State by the Government agencies concerned adding layer after layer on top of one another to the roads thereby raising the road levels indiscriminately, is definitely a wrong one, apart from being a bane to the process of urban development and a menace adding to the woes of already harassed citizens.

The situation has gone to that extent that in some cases, the individuals living along the roads have to raise the ground levels of their respective campuses to the level of the windows of their buildings.

The rise in the road levels has also led to the rise in the level of the adjacent footpaths. This has again resulted in construction of ramps by the individuals. These ramps protrude about four to five feet on to the main road.

These are some of the assertions made in a petition filed by some concerned Guwahatians before the Gauhati High Court in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case (No 44 of 2011) on the road levels. The PIL has been admitted by the court.

The petitioners, who include noted social worker Gitima Bhuyan and nine others, have, in their petition, referred to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Building Bye-Laws, 2006.

The 2006 GMC Building Bye-Laws has stated that no one would be able to construct any building with the height of the plinth less than 0.5 metre and more than 0.75 metre above the ground level of the plot. The ground level of the plot should not be raised more than 0.5 metre from the finished surface of the nearest street level to be fixed permanently by the authority concerned in the plain areas, goes the GMC Building Bye-Laws.

The State PWD has informed one of the petitioners in response to a Right to Information (RTI) petition, that it has not fixed the permanent levels of the roads in the plain areas of the city of Guwahati as per the building byelaws of the authorities concerned.

Significantly, none of the GMC and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has fixed the permanent surface levels of the roads in the city plains.

The petitioners have argued that the practice of raising the road levels is contrary to the Articles 14, 21 and 300A of the Indian Constitution. It is also violative of property rights of the affected citizens.

The petitioners, interalia, called for judicial steps to direct and command the respondents, which include Guwahati Development Department Secretary, Public Works Department (PWD) Secretary, PWD (Roads) Chief Engineer, GMC, GMDA and the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro), to permanently fix and notify the finished surface levels of all the city roads. They should also be asked to widely publish the same for the knowledge of the people, said the petitioners in their petition.

The respondents should also be asked to maintain such permanently fixed road levels in the city while carrying out repair, relaying or resurfacing works, the petitioners implore.

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PIL against raising of road levels

GUWAHATI, Aug 22 � The constant practice of raising the levels of the city roads has led to the sinking of the plinth levels of the houses located along these roads and water logging even is some newly built areas.

Countless number of individual houses built with lifelong savings, have suffered irreversible damage. Many families have to shift to other areas while a few have or had to sell off their properties in view of the deteriorating situation.

This is despite the fact that in many cities of the country, roads have been repaired, re-surfaced etc, without ever raising the level of the said roads. The Park Street, Chowringhee, Chittaranjan Avenue etc in the city of Kolkata can be easily cited as examples. So also, the roads in and around Connaught Place, around Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, India Gate, Rajghat etc in Delhi can be cited as further examples.

These roads, as well as the footpaths or pedestrian pavements by the side of these roads, have remained at the same level over the last several decades or maybe from the time of their construction. It is not that these roads have never undergone repairs or re-surfacing. But such repair and re-surfacing works have been done after excavation and removal of the old layers.

The standard engineering practice is to remove the damaged layers of the roads and to relay the same with fresh layers. As such, the practice followed in Guwahati as well as other urban areas of the State by the Government agencies concerned adding layer after layer on top of one another to the roads thereby raising the road levels indiscriminately, is definitely a wrong one, apart from being a bane to the process of urban development and a menace adding to the woes of already harassed citizens.

The situation has gone to that extent that in some cases, the individuals living along the roads have to raise the ground levels of their respective campuses to the level of the windows of their buildings.

The rise in the road levels has also led to the rise in the level of the adjacent footpaths. This has again resulted in construction of ramps by the individuals. These ramps protrude about four to five feet on to the main road.

These are some of the assertions made in a petition filed by some concerned Guwahatians before the Gauhati High Court in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case (No 44 of 2011) on the road levels. The PIL has been admitted by the court.

The petitioners, who include noted social worker Gitima Bhuyan and nine others, have, in their petition, referred to the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Building Bye-Laws, 2006.

The 2006 GMC Building Bye-Laws has stated that no one would be able to construct any building with the height of the plinth less than 0.5 metre and more than 0.75 metre above the ground level of the plot. The ground level of the plot should not be raised more than 0.5 metre from the finished surface of the nearest street level to be fixed permanently by the authority concerned in the plain areas, goes the GMC Building Bye-Laws.

The State PWD has informed one of the petitioners in response to a Right to Information (RTI) petition, that it has not fixed the permanent levels of the roads in the plain areas of the city of Guwahati as per the building byelaws of the authorities concerned.

Significantly, none of the GMC and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has fixed the permanent surface levels of the roads in the city plains.

The petitioners have argued that the practice of raising the road levels is contrary to the Articles 14, 21 and 300A of the Indian Constitution. It is also violative of property rights of the affected citizens.

The petitioners, interalia, called for judicial steps to direct and command the respondents, which include Guwahati Development Department Secretary, Public Works Department (PWD) Secretary, PWD (Roads) Chief Engineer, GMC, GMDA and the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro), to permanently fix and notify the finished surface levels of all the city roads. They should also be asked to widely publish the same for the knowledge of the people, said the petitioners in their petition.

The respondents should also be asked to maintain such permanently fixed road levels in the city while carrying out repair, relaying or resurfacing works, the petitioners implore.

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