Monsoons have arrived in Guwahati and so have the problems of flash floods. Every year, water-logged roads, houses submerged in water, vehicles left stranded underwater, commuters in distress are a common sight after a heavy downpour during the monsoons. In the fact, the problem of artificial floods in the city is so severe that places like Anil Nagar, Nabin Nagar in the zoo road area of the city remain underwater for three to four days resulting in heavy damage to the government and private properties. This problem of urban flooding in Guwahati can be ascertained from the fact that in June 2017, four people died in the city when over 2,000 residents were affected due to flash floods.
“Every time it rains heavily even for a few minutes the entire street gets flooded with water coming out of the drains. It gets very difficult for me to go to work. Sometimes the water even enters the premises of my house. Flash floods are a big headache for the people living in this area,” said Rantu Deka a resident of Anil Nagar.
Meanwhile, professor of Geography, Gauhati University, Abani Kumar Bhagawati fears that the situation will worsen so much that it will eventually force people of a few areas to leave the city.
Even though flooding is a natural phenomenon, the floods across Guwahati can be mainly attributed to the unplanned expansion of the city to accumulate the increasing population leading to increased housing and construction activities which have resulted in the construction of unplanned drains, severe encroachment in the wetlands, low lying areas, hills and shrinkage of forest cover.
“The flood situation in the city worsened in the last 20 years due to rapid urbanization,” said Abani Kumar Bhagawati while speaking to a national daily.
Headline8 spoke on the issue to Chief Engineer of Guwahati Municipal Corporation, Debajit Das. On the GMC’s measures to control flash floods in the city this year, he stated that the cleaning process of the 575 drains and the five river channels-Bharalu, Mora Bharalu, Pamohi, Bondajan, Silsako under the GMC has already started. However, he said that due to the Model Code of Conduct Issued for the recently concluded Assam polls, there was a delay in issuing a work order for the same.
Meanwhile, on the long-term solution to the flood issue, Das said, “We have constructed a drain at the Noonmati area of the city. In addition, the flash flood problems have decreased significantly in the zoo road area as water that is logged there is directly drained into the Brahmaputra through the Bundajan channel. We have also constructed two artificial reservoirs at the veterinary campus in Khanapara to store the excess water. We are hopeful that the flood problem will be solved soon. We are trying our best to make sure that the streets which used to remain waterlogged for a long time now clear off within 30 minutes.”
Thus, it is evident that in spite of the administration’s efforts the flash flood problem in the city is here to stay. Also, since it is well-known that the model code of conduct before the elections was inevitable, so could the administration have not started the cleaning process two to three months prior? Waiting for the last moment to start the cleaning activities also gives hindsight to the unplanned manner in which the GMC has functioned over the years in terms of solving the flood problem in the city.