GUWAHATI, May 10 � Indiscriminate raising of road levels in the city, in blatant violation of urban planning norms, exemplifies the city�s thoughtless, haphazard development process.
The strange penchant on the part of authorities such as the PWD, the GMC, the GMDA, etc, for raising road levels every time a road is repaired or re-laid is also subjecting the citizens to severe hardships.
Matters have worsened to the extent that many of the roads, streets and footpaths as well � following decades of repairing � now stand at a height equal to or even exceeding the windows of houses. The situation is akin to negating the people�s right to property guaranteed under Section 21 of the Constitution of India.
�We are compelled to spend heavily on measures to block rainwater. Even more disturbing is the fact that our houses, built from our life-long savings, have suffered irreversible damage. There is also perennial dampness in our compounds. This is a huge economic loss forced onto the citizens by the government�s endorsement of an unscientific development process,� a resident of the Nabin Nagar bylane of the RG Baruah Road said, adding that many families had shifted to other areas while a few had even sold off their houses in view of the deteriorating situation.
Apparently, the government authorities concerned, such as the PWD and the GMDA, do not have any logical explanation as to why this blatant violation is being perpetuated. Almost all the roads and bylanes of the city have added several inches to the already high road plinth. With the authorities choosing to remain oblivious to the disturbing consequences of this malpractice, citizens feel that the matter needs intervention from the judiciary.
GMDA Chairman Dhiren Baruah, while acknowledging the problem, said that the lack of coordination among the various departments and agencies was a factor behind the phenomenon.
�Road level must be maintained as per the urban planning norms, but the PWD and the GMC have not been adhering to this norm for years. We are taking up this and other civic planning issues with all the departments and agencies concerned, so that there is no violation of urban planning laws,� he said.
Baruah added that the manpower shortage � especially of engineers � in the GMDA was also hampering adequate monitoring of road construction norms in the city. �But we expect to streamline things within a short time,� he said.
The Patna High Court, in a judgement over a PIL a few years back, ordered the road construction department and other agencies concerned to stop raising the level of the roads all over the State of Bihar. The court observed that urban development guidelines, which provide for digging the old roads before constructing new ones, must be followed and that the agencies must ensure that the level of the road remains the same after any fresh construction.
The court even rejected the submission of the department that digging the dilapidated roads before re-laying fresh ones on them would entail additional cost.
The abnormal rise in road levels has seriously aggravated the waterlogging problem for residents in many areas of the city. Residents in several areas have complained that their houses had been �sinking� with the corresponding rise in road level.