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State Govt submits Rs 321-cr plan to ADB

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, July 11 - The Government of Assam has submitted a detailed proposal involving Rs 321 crore to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for implementing a mega project for dealing with artificial floods in Guwahati city and if everything goes according to plan, the implementation of the project is likely to start by the end of this year.

Talking to The Assam Tribune, Additional Chief Secretary in-charge of the Guwahati Development Department, MGVK Bhanu said the project is likely to be completed in three years and the government would take all possible measures to ensure timely completion of it. He said that ADB representatives have verbally accepted the project on principle and the final approval is awaited.

Giving details of the project, Bhanu revealed that it would have several components �pumping and diversion of water, conservation of the water bodies to increase their water retention capacity, water harvesting etc. He revealed that the preparation of the project started following the devastating artificial floods in the city in 2014 and experts including technocrats from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and even from Mumbai were involved in the process. Representatives from the ADB were also involved in the whole process, while, studies by Columbia University and an Israeli company were also incorporated while preparing the detailed proposal.

Bhanu revealed that now there are four pumping stations to pump out water from the city. On an average, water has to be pumped out of the city for 60 days a year as the water level of the river Brahmaputra is higher than that of river Bharalu in those days and the sluice gates have to be closed down. Under the project submitted to the ADB, new pumping stations will be set up to improve the system of pumping out water from the city.

The major component of the project would be diversion of water. Under the project, water from the Bamunimaidam area of the city would be diverted to Bondajan and from Dispur Supermarket area

towards Silsako. A new underground drain will be constructed in the Panjabari area as the existing drains are unable to deal with the problem of waterlogging in the area. Water from several city localities will be pumped out to Bharalu river through underground pipes. Moreover, water harvesting stores will be constructed along a number of slopes of the hills and that part of the project will be implemented by the Soil Conservation Department, while the preservation of water bodies including Deepar Beel and Silsako Beel would be taken up under the Smart City project.

Bhanu pointed out that artificial flood in the city is a historical problem as over the years, Guwahati city has been developed without considering issues like maintaining the water retention capacity and water flow out of the city. He said that over the years, the paddy fields have been filled up, which also reduced the water retention capacity. The preservation of the water bodies is a must to deal with the problem, while the river Bharalu has not been able to carry the water out of the city. He said that following the devastating floods, a project for de-siltation of the Bharalu was taken up last year, but the guard walls collapsed in three places and the project had to be stopped.

The Commissioner of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation, Narayan Konwar said that encroachment on the hills is another major problem as the drains are clogged with silt frequently. He said that a huge amount of money is spent every year to clear the drains but they are clogged again within a short time thus reducing the water carrying capacity. He revealed that in the last couple of years, the GMC has been spending around Rs 15 crore a year only to clean the drains. He hoped that the implementation of the new project, which includes water harvesting on the hill slopes, would be able to deal with the problem by a great extent.

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