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89 bridges ordered to be demolished in Guwahati to ease water logging

The order to demolish the bridges, both public and private, was passed ex-parte citing the "emergent nature" of the task of mitigating urban floods.

 As many as 89 bridges over a river along an approximately 8 km stretch in Guwahati will be demolished to ease water logging problems in a part of the city, a government order said. Opposition Congress on Monday termed the decision an “inhuman step” and maintained that such demolitions should be based on scientific studies.

The order to demolish the bridges, both public and private, was passed ex-parte citing the “emergent nature” of the task of mitigating urban floods.

It was issued by the Kamrup metropolitan deputy commissioner and chairman of the district management authority, Pallav Gopal Jha, said public interference or hindrance during the execution of the demolition will be considered as obstruction to public service and legal action may be initiated as per prevalent acts and norms.

Though the directive was issued on Thursday, it was not shared with the media by the authorities.

It was made available to the media on Monday by Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia of the Congress, who in a statement termed it as “an inhuman step by the government against common people”.

The bridges, some of them concrete and others iron structures, include those connecting the state zoo, the SBI Dispur branch and the local head office, NABARD office, North Eastern Development Finance (NEDFi) Corporation House, several hospitals and thickly populated residential areas.

Jha in his order, said the list of 89 bridges over Bahini river was submitted by the commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation. These are “obstructing” the natural flow of water causing water logging problem in different places.

He has directed GMC to demolish these structures immediately for smooth flow of stormwater during the rainy season so that necessary relief from severe waterlogging may be provided to the people.

“Whereas, I am of the considered opinion that, if these structures are not demolished immediately, the de-siltation work along the Bahini river will not be effective causing immense hardship to the residents of that area and public in general,” the order said.

Saikia said, “The order should have been based on a proper hydro/flood level report on the river.”.

The Congress leader claimed that over 80 bridges in Guwahati over Bahini and Bharalu rivers were demolished in 2008 and the current ones were built after necessary permissions and approval from concerned departments.

The Assam government recently carried out an eviction drive to clear around 400 bighas (over 132 acres) of land from alleged encroachers on the banks of Silsako Beel (lake) in the city.

The Silsako Beel due to the encroachments has been reduced to a small pit and is one of the main reasons for water logging in the eastern part of the capital city during the monsoon, Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) chairman Narayan Deka had told PTI.

The GMDA as a first step has set a target to clear 100 metres, around 400 bighas, on both sides of the lake, an official said.

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