GUWAHATI, Aug 11 - It has become a regular practice of the Public Works Department (PWD) and other authorities of the State to raise the levels of the roads and streets in Guwahati and other urban areas whenever repair, relaying or resurfacing works on the avenues are taken up.
This practice is going on for some decades and as a result the finished levels of many of the roads stand at a height equal to or even more than the height of the window tops of many residential and other buildings in the city.
The miseries of the Guwahatians do not end here because, to maintain parity with the rising road levels, the levels of the footpaths or the covered drains are also raised from time to time.
And all such irrational activities on the part of the PWD and other authorities have rendered ground floors of numerous buildings uninhabitable, particularly during the rainy season, besides aggravating the waterlogging problem.
A large number of houses and other premises which were initially above the road levels have now gone down well below the road levels, resulting in choked garbage and flooding due to back flow of water from the roads and overflowing drains.
A countless number of houses built by spending lifelong savings, have suffered irreversible damage. Many people have had to dismantle their residences and raise the ground floors, while many others had to shift to other places under the adverse impact of the unwelcome practice.
Such acts on the part of the authorities are also in violation of the building bye-laws of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation which stipulate that levels of roads are to be fixed permanently by the authority concerned, besides affecting the lives of the citizens, thus violating their valuable property rights.
It is not known if there are any guidelines, rules, regulations, policies, etc., framed so far to be followed in the construction/repair of roads. What has been a recurring phenomenon is that every time a city road is repaired, relaid or resurfaced, it invariably means laying a fresh layer over the existing one, thereby raising the height of the road by a few inches.
Senior engineers here are of the opinion that the standard engineering practice is to dig out, or, excavate the damaged layers of the road and relay the same with fresh layers without raising the level of the road.
In the last budget session of the State Assembly, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said in his budget speech (XXI 172, 173) that it would now be mandatory to excavate the existing roads before laying of fresh layers in order to address the long-standing grievance of the citizens. It is pertinent to mention that now the Finance Minister is also the PWD Minister of the State.
In spite of this, it is seen that the Rajgarh Road has been raised by a few inches during the very recent resurfacing works. Again, the VIP Road near Rahman Nursing Home has been raised by almost a foot during the repair work which is currently in progress.
It may be noted that in many cities of the country roads have been repaired, resurfaced, etc., without their levels ever being raised. The Park Street, Chowringhee, Chittaranjan Avenue, among others, in Kolkata can easily be cited as examples. The roads in and around Cannaught Place, around Rashtrapati Bhawan, Parliament House, India Gate, Rajghat, etc., in Delhi are also good examples.
These roads as well as the footpaths or pedestrian pavements by the sides of these roads have remained at the same level over the last several decades or maybe since the time of their construction. These roads too have been repaired or resurfaced, but only after excavation and removal of the old layers, said the senior engineers.