Dhemaji district completes 25 years of its existence in 2014. It was carved out of the erstwhile Lakhimpur district in 1989. Dhemaji has a glorious history, abundant natural resources, unique natural beauty and diverse culture. During the last 25 years, various physical assets were created in the district, but Dhemaji is known to the outside world as a backward district, mostly due to its perennial flood problem. The devastating flood generated by the Jiadhal, Gainadi, Subansiri, Simen and the mighty Brahmaputra rivers, is one of the major causes behind its backwardness. Poor connectivity, erratic power supply, inadequate physical infrastructure, etc., are also responsible for its poor economic growth. Though a few landmark projects like an engineering college, a truck and bus terminus, etc., are in the pipeline and a few others are under construction, will it be enough to make Dhemaji a vibrant town in the coming years with technology-based governance that enables efficient basic services and ensures 24-hour power supply, hundred per cent drainage and solid waste management facilities?
Can an underdeveloped district like Dhemaji not dream of becoming an efficient and vibrant district? This can definitely be done with meticulous planning and proper vision. Vision gives direction and purpose of development and carves a path for the future. Overcoming the challenges should be the motto in the silver jubilee celebration year. The need of the hour is to provide good governance, a sound economy, a safe, efficient traffic and transportation system and eco-friendly environment. People should be made more informative.
Good governance is always achievable with the help of technology, large-scale public participation in policy framing and wiser implementation of schemes like Raijar Padulit Raijar Sarkar, etc. A well-laid transportation network/grid and proper transportation planning can provide a safe and efficient traffic and transportation system. The traffic management system will not allow any traffic congestion that pollutes the environment and affects the economy of the town. Allocation of resources in the right manner and the use of innovative ideas and technology can boost the economy. Proper land use, block-level zoning and beautification planning result in an eco-friendly environment.
Dhemaji town attained its urban status in 1971 and the Town Committee was formed in 1977 with a population of less than 5,000 persons, covering an area of 3.5 square km. Since then the population of the town has been increasing steadily and it reached 12,823 in 2011 as per the Census of India report. The urban growth rate is not alarming, but rural-urban migration exists. With the rural-urban migration, the urban population of Dhemaji is likely to increase considerably once the Bogibeel road-cum-railway bridge, connecting the north and south banks, starts functioning. The Government has taken a right and pragmatic decision to increase the number of the Town Committee wards from the existing four to 10. It is also high time that a roadmap of development was made to guide urban growth in a predetermined way before it goes out of control to make Dhemaji an efficient and vibrant town in the next couple of years with top class infrastructure and amenities, enhancing the quality of urban life through an integrated approach to urban planning. This is a herculean task, what with garbage and stray animals on the roads, artificial floods in the posh areas, poor connectivity, erratic power supply, absence of medium to large-scale industries, narrow lanes and other related problems. Mobility is difficult in such narrow lanes where half of the width is covered by parked vehicles and utility lines. A road with separate space for utility services, walking, cycling, buses and cars is hard to imagine. But we have to achieve that, failing which traffic congestion and air pollution will result. In spite of so many odds, Dhemaji has tremendous potential in respect of development of human resources, sericulture, fishery, agriculture and tourism. But the issues relating to this have not been seriously discussed and capacity building is missing. No research work or scientific study of the rivers has been carried out to use rivers as a resource. We can build strong, safe and stable embankments with inputs gained from the river study and also with an integrated effort from all authorities concerned, thereby not only reducing the degree of damage on the economy, but also saving life and property. Informative people should be the watchdog at every step of implementation and their constructive suggestions must be made acceptable in accordance with rules. River water is a boon of nature to the developed States, but we still do not know how to use it. A geological research work on the available river stones should be carried out to find the scope of establishing a marble and other allied building material industry in the region. The Agriculture department can also play a pivotal role by promoting and encouraging organic farming and agri-tourism to enhance the economy. The Fishery department can play even a bigger role to uplift the economy with the use of present technology as there are abundant water bodies. The increased town boundary as notified by the Government, covering the existing town and its contiguous areas, should be planned with new technology to house the future requirements for another 25 years. The quality of life of the existing town can be improved with proper planning and development of new areas should be done on the basis of micro/block level planning where all urban problems covering drainage, solid waste management, water supply, etc., are addressed before the first resident moves in. Finally, we can make Dhemaji a place of living where people will love coming back in the evening with the convergence of technological components with political and institutional components.