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Tackling Jorabat flash flood: Lack of expertise, or of will?

By Prameswar Puri
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JORABAT, May 24 - Even though the flash floods at Jorabat have been giving a hellish time to both man and vehicular traffic, the government seems to be adamant at keeping itself away from framing an effective and constructive plan to resolve the issue.

Over the last 8-9 years, several representations have been made by parties and organisations to the authorities concerned to take corrective measures. Several protest programmes too have been carried out by different organisations during the period, but the flash flood problem has remained unchanged.

The people of greater Jorabat area are apprehensive that this year the flash flood would take a more menacing form, given the fact that the area has already witnessed two flood situations even before the onset of the real monsoon season. Coupled with it is the absence of any concrete measures by the government to solve the problem.

Apart from economic damage, there have been instances of flash floods at Jorabat claiming human lives as ambulances rushing seriously ill patients to hospitals in Guwahati have got stuck for hours in the traffic snarls caused by the floods.

Of course, it should be mentioned that last year a week-long eviction drive was carried out by the Kamrup Metro district administration on the Jorabat-Byrnihat stretch to remove illegal encroachers from the land meant for the roadside drain. During the drive over 200 structures were demolished along with deepening and broadening of the drain to increase its water-bearing capacity.

But the local residents termed last year�s eviction drive a �complete failure� as it was not followed by any concrete measures which could help in solving the recurring flash flood problem in the area.

On being asked about the results of a number of high-level meetings of various stakeholders last year on the flash flood issue, Sonapur Circle Officer Jenifer Yasmin Choudhury said that a plan was formulated and sent to the higher authorities as such a plan would require huge funds and it is not possible for the district administration to carry out such a massive project on its own.

She said they have not yet received the nod or acknowledgment of the plan from the government.

Looking for an alternative plan at community level, Circle Officer Choudhury informed about her plan to install a few grilled nets in the drain at different locations to stop debris or plastic waste which choke off the drain, making it overflow to cause flood during downpours. Though she is not sure of the viability of the plan, some residents of the area said it would be a costly affair at the community level as a huge amount of money would be required every time the drain is cleaned.

Meanwhile, many affected people of the area are of the opinion that raising the height of the existing culvert at the Jorabat tri-junction could be a major step in making Jorabat flood-free.

It may also be mentioned that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has built three new culverts on NH-37 to mitigate the flood impact, but has shown its back to a popular demand of the locals to raise the existing culvert at the Jorabat tri-junction.

The exasperated locals have now asked the government as to when it will recognise the flash flood at Jorabat as a major problem and work to solve it, as the strategic area comes to a total standstill during downpours.

Jorabat is an important tri-junction that connects Guwahati to Meghalaya, Barak Valley, Mizoram and Tripura through NH-6 on one side and upper Assam and lower Assam through NH-37 on the other.

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Tackling Jorabat flash flood: Lack of expertise, or of will?

JORABAT, May 24 - Even though the flash floods at Jorabat have been giving a hellish time to both man and vehicular traffic, the government seems to be adamant at keeping itself away from framing an effective and constructive plan to resolve the issue.

Over the last 8-9 years, several representations have been made by parties and organisations to the authorities concerned to take corrective measures. Several protest programmes too have been carried out by different organisations during the period, but the flash flood problem has remained unchanged.

The people of greater Jorabat area are apprehensive that this year the flash flood would take a more menacing form, given the fact that the area has already witnessed two flood situations even before the onset of the real monsoon season. Coupled with it is the absence of any concrete measures by the government to solve the problem.

Apart from economic damage, there have been instances of flash floods at Jorabat claiming human lives as ambulances rushing seriously ill patients to hospitals in Guwahati have got stuck for hours in the traffic snarls caused by the floods.

Of course, it should be mentioned that last year a week-long eviction drive was carried out by the Kamrup Metro district administration on the Jorabat-Byrnihat stretch to remove illegal encroachers from the land meant for the roadside drain. During the drive over 200 structures were demolished along with deepening and broadening of the drain to increase its water-bearing capacity.

But the local residents termed last year�s eviction drive a �complete failure� as it was not followed by any concrete measures which could help in solving the recurring flash flood problem in the area.

On being asked about the results of a number of high-level meetings of various stakeholders last year on the flash flood issue, Sonapur Circle Officer Jenifer Yasmin Choudhury said that a plan was formulated and sent to the higher authorities as such a plan would require huge funds and it is not possible for the district administration to carry out such a massive project on its own.

She said they have not yet received the nod or acknowledgment of the plan from the government.

Looking for an alternative plan at community level, Circle Officer Choudhury informed about her plan to install a few grilled nets in the drain at different locations to stop debris or plastic waste which choke off the drain, making it overflow to cause flood during downpours. Though she is not sure of the viability of the plan, some residents of the area said it would be a costly affair at the community level as a huge amount of money would be required every time the drain is cleaned.

Meanwhile, many affected people of the area are of the opinion that raising the height of the existing culvert at the Jorabat tri-junction could be a major step in making Jorabat flood-free.

It may also be mentioned that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has built three new culverts on NH-37 to mitigate the flood impact, but has shown its back to a popular demand of the locals to raise the existing culvert at the Jorabat tri-junction.

The exasperated locals have now asked the government as to when it will recognise the flash flood at Jorabat as a major problem and work to solve it, as the strategic area comes to a total standstill during downpours.

Jorabat is an important tri-junction that connects Guwahati to Meghalaya, Barak Valley, Mizoram and Tripura through NH-6 on one side and upper Assam and lower Assam through NH-37 on the other.

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