The rains are back in Silchar and its time for the people of the town to live through that now familiar nightmare again. The roads will be waterlogged, the mud and dirt on display will be unbearable and the crores spent on road repairing during the dry season will literally flow down the drains. Probably, an outsider not accustomed to such mess on the streets will find it impossible to wade through our roads during the monsoon. Silcharites, however, have perfected this art with the passage of time.
The story of Silchar’s drainage system is yet again a story of government incompetence and corruption. We, in CFS, have become tired of writing about the inefficiencies of the state government. In fact, we also sincerely want to write good things about them, only if they give us a chance!
Silchar’s Master Drainage Plan was launched with much fanfare in 2006. The then Union Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Santosh Mohan Dev had worked hard get the project sanctioned and had promised that water logging woes would soon be a thing of the past for the residents.
|Major roads such as Station Road do not have any drainage system|
However, like many other developmental projects of the region, this 178 crore project also became a victim of governmental red tape. The National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC), a public sector firm, entrusted with the job of executing the project, left the work midway in early 2007. The NBCC alleged that the local businessmen, who had encroached public land near the roads to extend their shops were not keen to give away that land for the construction work and the district administration also did not bother to come forward and cooperate in getting the required land acquired.
This allegation triggered a blame game between the NBCC and the state government. Dinesh Prasad Goala, the then Urban Development Minister of Assam rubbished the allegations and said that the public sector major was not competent enough to complete the work and whatever little work they had done was also sub standard.
Many insiders within Congress also believe that Goala was never keen to let a project brought by Dev succeed due to their political rivalry. However, publicly, none of the two political veterans came out in public to make any allegation against the other. Goala, all through, his ministerial tenure, kept making one false assurance after another regarding finishing the work, but no progress could be seen on the ground.
Since then, four more monsoons have passed and we the poor residents are paying the price. Whatever little road repairing work was done during the last winter also runs the risk of being damaged again because most of these roads do not have any drainage to drain away the rain water.
Silchar’s newly elected MLA Susmita Dev has again shown some interest in this project. Recently, she met the state’s PWD Minister Ajanta Neog and urgently requested her to look into the matter. A new Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the project worth more than 200 crores is supposed to be sent to the centre for approval. According to media reports, the Urban, Country Planning and Sewerage Board is giving final touches to the new proposal in Guwahati.
The new plan envisages a network of inter connected drains cutting across all corners of the town. If all goes well, this project should not take more than four years to complete. In the meantime, Susmita Dev has also promised to start a mini drainage plan worth Rs. 1.05 crores which will try to solve Silchar’s civic woes in the interim.
Meanwhile, we the people can only hope and pray in anticipation. It is absolutely incomprehensible that Silchar, despite being in a high rainfall zone, does not yet have a master drainage system so many years after independence. It is equally incomprehensible, that the people of Silchar , who face floods and water logging practically ever year, still do not have the minimum civic sense that polythene or other non degradable materials should not be dumped in the drains.
|A drainage project in progress. Photo Coutesy: Telegraph|
Only time will decide whether, Susmita Dev’s recent show of concern is genuine or just a well planned public relations exercise. However, on our part, we should at least show some awareness by not dumping solid waste indiscriminately in the water bodies and cleaning the drains near our houses after regular intervals.