GUWAHATI, May 11 - The biggest challenge for the State government, in a post-lockdown scenario, will be how to maintain social distancing in high-movement and congested public places like railway stations, bus stations and market places.
The government authorities have failed to maintain open spaces in and around most such public areas, especially in bus and rail stations that are visited by thousands of commuters every day.
In the State capital Guwahati, for instance, which boasts of being the Gateway to the Northeast, a lot of encroachments have taken place over the years, particularly with regard to mandatory roadside setbacks/margins from main structures/buildings in the high-movement and congested places like the Guwahati Railway Station and the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) bus station at Paltan Bazar.
It has been observed that the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) building laws have been blatantly flouted by the authorities with regard to the entry to the railway station from the Paltan Bazar side.
Similarly, the ASTC authority is also guilty in allowing people to encroach on the mandatory minimum 12-feet setback/margin open area between the main public building/structure and the public road.
As a result, there is practically no open space left from the PWD entrance road to the railway station, thus making it extremely congested and vulnerable, especially during times like the present one caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
�A tourist entering or exiting the Guwahati Railways Station or the ASTC bus station from or to the Paltan Bazar side would get a feeling of being in a slum area of the city.
It is high time all encroachments are cleared as per existing GMC and GMDA building byelaws meant for the public building and structure in order to avert a major disaster like COVID-19 from taking place,� a source said, adding that GMDA, GMC, district authorities, Railways and ASTC should act now to clear all encroachments and sanitize the areas meticulously before the lockdown is over.
With the lockdown guidelines being relaxed to a large extent, the possibility of a sudden spurt in the movement of people in the usually crowded areas has greatly increased as well. The challenge before the authorities, therefore, is now greater than ever before, because their alacrity or lack of it will be a deciding factor in finding out which way the transmission goes in this highly crucial period.