Guwahati’s smart city plan submerges in artificial floods

By: Maitreyee Boruah
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Guwahati, July 8: Look at the irony. It has been just a few days ago on June 29, Guwahati-the gateway of the northeast India-became the first city in the country to conduct a mock drill for tackling urban floods. On Thursday (July 7), the city was submerged in water. Floods in Assam are an annual, or should we say biennial or triennial, ritual. Currently, around 90,000 people have been affected in the latest wave of floods across seven districts in Assam, reports the news agency PTI.

Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) sources said more than 88,000 people are reeling under floods in 257 villages across Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Nagaon, Jorhat, Golaghat, Morigaon and Biswanath districts, adds PTI. However, Guwahati's situation is slightly different from its neighbouring towns and villages. The city is a victim of artificial floods. Experts point out at the unplanned drainage system in the city that causes floods during the rainy season.

Guwahati floods

Atanu Baruah, a retired government official, tells OneIndia that this year itself his house and neighbouring localities bore the brunt of artificial floods several times. "Rain signals danger for us. Even after a mild shower, our entire locality in Ulubari (in the posh GS Road) gets submerged in water. There is no drainage system to support the rain water."

Members of Save Guwahati Build Guwahati (SGBG), an NGO working on urban issues, accuse the city planners and administrators for people's woes.

"Artificial flood in Guwahati is the result of unplanned drainage system in the city. All drains are clogged in the flooded areas. Agencies like the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) have long neglected to keep the drains clean. The city's infrastructure is crumbling. It is getting from bad to worse," said an activist from SGBG.

Guwahati also featured as the only city in the entire northeast region in Centre's smart city list of 20. The city also saw the launch of two projects under the master plan of the Smart City Mission recently.

"There are a lot of expectations from the newly elected government of the BJP in the state, headed by chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal. Hope his government works to end city's perennial flood problem. The previous Congress government failed to honour people's wishes and thus the party was voted out," said Arman Ali, a Guwahati-based activist.

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