GUWAHATI, March 31 - Despite being an integral part of electoral politics in the city, the issue relating to acute water crisis here is yet to be solved by the present and the previous dispensations.
Once more, the issue has been being raised to garner votes but the water woes of the Guwahatians stands as a testimony of failure of the successive governments.
While both Congress and BJP do not shy away from making it a political issue, in reality, the governments run by either party have failed to deliver on this front, despite the fact that the mighty Brahmaputra flows through the city. Though this issue is raised every time during poll campaigns in the State, all that people have got so far are failed deadlines.
City�s first 24x7 water supply scheme, sanctioned in 2008 during the regime of the then chief minister Tarun Gogoi, was initially scheduled to be completed in 2011. The project missed several revised deadlines in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and the issue was raised several times by the BJP MP Bijoya Chakraborty in her poll campaigns before her party formed the government.
Hitting out at Congress in February 2014, BJP�s prime ministerial candidate and the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had stated in Guwahati that the size of his State�s water supply pipe was such that Tarun Gogoi, who was chief minister then, could drive with his family through the pipe.
�Assam is lucky to have a river like the Brahmaputra. Still the people of Guwahati do not have water to drink,� Modi had said in an election rally here. Subsequently, BJP came to power at the Centre and also in Assam, but water woes continued to haunt the city residents.
BJP candidate Queen Oja told The Assam Tribune that water crisis tops her list of priorities for Guwahati in this election.
�Everywhere in the city, people complain about the water crisis. If given an opportunity, my attempt would be to expedite the projects to end this ordeal as soon as possible,� she said.
Oja claimed that the implementation of projects had not made any progress during the previous State government regimes. �After coming to power, our government completed the infrastructure to a great extent. However, some litigation and other issues are delaying the work,� she said.
Congress� Bobbeeta Sharma, however, mentioned that the problem is far graver. �The projects were supposed to be completed in 2017 as per the last deadline. After coming to power, the new government made tall promises about completing the project within 2017. Now, the BJP government should explain why it is taking so much time. The projects cannot be stalled, especially when the people of the city are facing lots of hardships for their water need,� she said, adding, �similar problem was witnessed in Delhi due to �water mafia� spreading its net in the national capital. Selling water at a higher rate is turning out to be a profitable venture in many parts of the country.�
Also questioning the validity of Swachh Bharat campaign in the absence of adequate water, she questioned how cleanliness campaigns could run without water.
The four ambitious projects, financed by JNNURM, Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and Asian Development Bank are designed to cover an estimated population of 22.5 lakh by 2030 and 33.41 lakh by 2040 with round-the-clock piped water.
However, due to very slow progress and changing deadlines, the fate of the four projects is still in limbo, despite the fact that 80 to 95 per cent work of the projects has already been completed.
As per recent data, nearly 200 households are getting water in Pandu and adjacent areas under a trial run. On the other hand, getting safe drinking water is a day-to-day struggle for the people in many localities in the city. With depleting groundwater resources and natural sources of water, people are compelled to buy untreated water at higher prices.
Studies often reveal worrying data of excess lead and arsenic in different water samples of Guwahati, which poses a serious threat to public health.