June 21: Drains are still lying uncovered in many areas of the city as Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri’s two-month deadline to PWD and Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) to cover them all ended yesterday.
Agnihotri had told The Telegraph that statutory action would be initiated if the PWD and GMC failed to cover the drains within two months a day after the death of 13-year-old Sagarika Bora on April 18.
This correspondent today visited four areas — Lakhtokia bus stop, Guwahati railway station, Reserve Bank of India and in front of Don Bosco School at Panbazar — found pedestrians negotiating open drains in three of these places while reconstruction of the drain in front of Don Bosco was under way. The construction, however, will take at least another one month to complete. A bamboo barricade has been put up in front of the open drain near Don Bosco School but there is no such protection near Lakhtokia, Guwahati railway station or the RBI.
It is one such uncovered drain in which Sagarika, a Class VII student of St Mary’s English School and a resident of Uzan Bazar, had fallen on April 10 and died a week later because of the liver injury she had suffered.
Sagarika was walking on the pavement to buy a pair of socks with her mother and younger sister.
“This has once again been proved that our administration makes promises only when someone dies after falling into an open drain and forgets thereafter. Some drains are being re-constructed but we have seen that no such steps have been initiated in many places. It’s shameful that we cannot plug the drains despite the death of four persons,” Bani Bikram Sarma, president of Hitakalpa, a city-based NGO, said.
The NGO had led a protest after Sagarika’s death and said the government machinery was unmoved despite the death of people from falling into open drains.
“We had met the deputy commissioner and PWD officials recently but nobody seems to be serious. They are yet to start work to repair drains in Hatigaon. We will meet the DC and the PWD chief engineer again in a couple of days to put pressure on them,” Sarma said.
The Telegraph on May 3 had highlighted how the repair of the drains was moving at snail’s pace. A tamul vendor, Rafiq Ali, who has his shop near Guwahati railway station, said, “Many passengers trip over the open drain and hurt themselves while rushing to catch trains.”
“If the DC had announced that drains would be covered within two months, he should personally monitored the work and got them done within the time frame. We cannot allow another Sagarika-like incident,” Ranjan Baruah, a social activist of Nayanpur, said.