GUWAHATI, July 29 � Thousands of residents of Lakhinagar, Hastinapur and Nayanpur localities of the city have been left high and dry and forced to take a long detour via Manik Nagar and Ganeshguri after the Kamrup Metro district administration and other civic bodies dug up the road on both sides of the bridge over the Bahini river connecting the areas to RG Baruah road earlier this month during the ongoing eviction drive.
Locals said that civic officials and staff from the Water Resources department had assured them that a temporary bridge would be constructed to facilitate movement of people of the localities, but no action has been taken in this regard for the past almost two weeks.
Not only are the civic authorities making a mockery of their work, but continued encroachment by some influential individuals and others in the area has also resulted in the Bahini river changing its course in the stretch, causing a huge area of the plot where the RG Baruah Kalakshetra is being built, to be lost under water.
Naba Kumar Goswami, general secretary of the Brihattar Japarigog Rongali Bihu Sanmilan, said the civic staff came on an anti-encroachment drive on July 15 and after consulting maps and making measurements, marked both banks of the river near the bridge where the structures and illegal constructions would be demolished.
�Due to encroachment on both sides of the Jayanta Hazarika Path on the RG Baruah side of the river, the water-body had over the years changed course. We, the local people, pointed this out to the civic staff and they accordingly, marked the walls of the nearest properties including those of a park, from where demolition would begin,� he said.
The civic officials told the locals that the portion of the Jayanta Hazarika Path leading to both sides of the bridge would also have to be dug up to allow the water body take its natural course as per maps.
The Jayanta Hazarika Path bisects from the RG Baruah Road near the Punjab National Bank near Rajdhani Nursery, and reaches Japarigog.
�We consented and requested that they build a temporary bridge till the dry season comes so that the locals are not inconvenienced as this was the main road for the people of Lakhinagar, Hastinapur and Nayanpur localities to the RG Baruah Road. They agreed and so the road was dug completely to allow the Bahini river to gain its natural route.
�However, while the public road was dug up, no demolition was carried out in the neighbouring properties which had been marked as encroached by the civic officials themselves. Only a small portion of the boundary wall of one of the plots, which is a park area taken on lease by an NGO, was removed, while on the other side nothing was done with regard to the property, which belongs to a late senior official,� he said.
Goswami said that after that the eviction staff left and nothing has been heard from them since July 18.
�We have repeatedly tried to contact Water Resources Superintending Engineer Khagen Deka, who had assured us of building the temporary bridge within two days, but he never answers our calls. Thousands of residents of nearby areas are now left with no option but to take a long detour via Manik Nagar or Ganeshguri. The situation will worsen even further from next month after schools reopen. Does the district administration expect our kids to walk an extra half an hour to catch their school buses?� wondered Goswami, who is also secretary of the RG Baruah Kalakshetra.
People of the area alleged that many civic officials are hands-in-glove with influential people and have over the years turned a blind eye to repeated misdoings.
�There has been such rampant encroachment that the Bahini has changed its course and formed a bend here. The encroachment has pushed the river to one side and this has resulted in an area of 120 X 5 feet of the RG Baruah Kalakshetra coming under the river�s water,� said Goswami.
The river has reached the plinth of the office building of the Brihattar Japarigog Rongali Bihu Sanmilan, which is located in the Kalakshetra�s compound.
Locals have expressed concern about the damage to such an important cultural heritage of the State.