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Plantation to block settlers

April 2: Dispur has asked the forest department to carry out a special plantation drive on the banks of Bharalu and Bahini to prevent encroachment.

An Assam government official said rampant encroachment along the banks of Bharalu and Bahini had posed a major problem for the Kamrup (metro) district administration and other departments responsible for the development of Guwahati.

He said though encroachments had blocked the natural flow of water of both the rivers and reduced their width, the administration was helpless, as encroachers were backed by a strong lobby of politicians. “A heavy shower is enough for both the rivers to submerge large parts of the city with rainwater,” he added.

“In recent years, eviction drives were carried along the bank of Bharalu by the administration. But it was ineffective, as the banks were re-encroached because of slack monitoring and lack of a proper policy to tackle the problem. Plantation along the banks would be a strong deterrent for encroachers to resettle. The government has constructed large concrete walls along the long stretch of the Bharalu to prevent further encroachments which has proved effective,” the official said.

According to the official, the forest department can execute the special plantation drive under its ongoing Green Guwahati project. He said plantation should be carried out in an intensive manner, particularly on the bank of the Bharalu, which is the natural drainage channel to flush out huge quantum of rainwater of the city to the Brahmaputra.

Sources said several politicians and political parties were backing the encroachers. “Some encroachers have acquired settlement orders from the revenue department and the RCC buildings along the channels are evidence of the nexus between politicians, officials and encroachers,” the source added.

“There should be fencing in and around the plantation areas on the banks of Bharalu and Bahini to prevent anyone from destroying trees or felling,” the source said.

He said the administration had sought the help and cooperation of the elected representatives of East Guwahati, West Guwahati, Dispur and Jalukbari Assembly constituencies and Guwahati Lok Sabha constituency to prevent encroachments along the Bharalu and Bahini.

MLAs from East Guwahati, West Guwahati and Dispur have also been requested to monitor encroachment.

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