| River of woes |
July 2: They are the reasons for the city’s many flood woes — the Bharalu that runs through Rajgarh accompanied by its upstream avatar, the Bahini, that runs along RG Baruah Road.
While the first is being held together by walls on either side, the second is the one that overflows its banks every monsoon, flooding all places in the vicinity.
As a resident of Lachit Nagar puts it: “Once the floods set in and the Bharalu swells its walls, the one question that haunts us is, Will the wall give way? If it does that, would mean the end of places such as Nabin Nagar and Lachit Nagar, which are already in a very bad shape?”
And true to the residents’ worries, all is not well with the walls that contain the Bharalu. According to sources, the reason that the Bharalu floods areas such as Anil Nagar and Nabin Nagar is the fact that the walls that contain the river actually leak.
Starting from RG Baruah Road Bridge Crossing at Jonali, the Bharalu covers a distance of nearly 6.2km till Santipur where it merges with the Brahmaputra.
The walls that have been erected along the banks of the Bharalu are made of large boulders and they have been erected after taking into consideration the seismic effect on the wall, sources say.
These walls cannot be built continuously, as there is danger of damage during an earthquake. Hence, after a particular length of about 25 metres, there has to be a gap of an inch in the wall. This gap is filled with rubber.
“The wall has been made in such a manner that it can withstand the pressure of water,” said K. Deka, the executive engineer of the water resources department.
“There is no danger of the waters of the Bharalu overflowing the bouldered walls because during construction we take into account how much the water level of the river may possibly rise as it flows through different areas. Then the wall is erected at a height of 0.5 metres more than the probable height to which the water level may rise in case of floods. So far the water has not overflowed this wall. The capacity of the Bharalu is about 70-80 cumec of water, which means 70-80 metres of water can pass flow through it in a second,” said Deka.
Sources, though, say there is a plausible explanation to the flooding — the gaps that are filled with rubber could be leaking.
That according to them could explain why the Bharalu floods areas such as Anil Nagar and Lachit Nagar even when it is walled.
According to officials in the water resources department, the checks to ensure that these gaps aren’t leaking haven’t been carried out yet.
And that they say could explain half of the Bharalu basin’s woes.
Coming to the Bahini, which is the upper stream of the Bharalu, the wall that contains the Bharalu could be extended to contain the Bahini along RG Baruah Road, a locality that has been reeling under such flash floods for more than two decades now.
Here lies the crunch.
The department, which had planned to extend Bharalu’s wall upstream along the Bahini does not have the funds required to carry out the job.
“We have already undertaken the project to extend Bharalu’s walls along the Bahini but funds are required to erect these walls. Work had begun early this year but only a portion could be completed and more time is required to complete the entire process,” said Deka.
Add to that the silt that flows into the Bharalu and the Bahini, and the dumping of waste by neighbourhoods, and it could well explain the flooding that plagues areas such as Anil Nagar, Lachit Nagar and RG Baruah Road, all in the heart of the city.