| The cleaning drive in progress on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos |
Dec. 23: The Brihattar Guwahati Unnayan Samiti Aikya Mancha, an umbrella organisation of 252 unnayan samitis (development committees), and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) today launched their joint “clean Bahini river” drive and around 100 of their members got into waters and cleaned a 100 metre-stretch of the river, which was illegally filled up by encroachers.
The drive began around 10.30am today and will continue for the next five months to clean up the river, which used to serve as a natural drainage system of the city but has been largely encroached upon, resulting in waterlogging every rainy season.
Mancha president Amar Bezbaruah told The Telegraph that the drive has been launched as private builders, businessmen and politicians have illegally filled up the Bahini river and blocking its natural flow and to protest the administration’s “soft attitude” towards them.
“Our drive involves common residents of the city and 252 development committees, which have been facing waterlogging problems during every rainy season. As the size of the river has been reduced and its natural flow blocked because of illegal occupation, we have decided to clean up the river during the dry season. Today, we have evicted a boulder-wall, which blocked the flow of the river at Juripar. During the five-month-long drive, our members will demolish all structures illegally constructed on the river and restore its natural flow,” Bezbaruah said.
Bahini is a 27km rivulet that originates in the hills of Meghalaya and passes through the city before falling into the Brahmaputra. It is one of the important rivulets, which drains out rainwater from the city. But largescale encroachment on the rivulet has reduced its size and even blocking flow of water. As a result, the city’s waterlogging problem is getting acute every rainy season. Many people have illegally filled up the Bahini and settled on the land while the state government, too, has allotted land to many parties and organisations for construction.
Armed with two JCB bulldozers and other equipment, the Mancha members, besides KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, got into water and started the cleaning drive.
Bezbaruah said there would be no discrimination while evicting the illegal settlements obstructing the natural flow of the river.
“All people, irrespective of their economic stature, who are guilty of illegal construction, will be evicted in order to reduce the annual problem of flash floods in the city,” he said.
Akhil also questioned the government’s allotment of land to private parties. He alleged that the government was only evicting poor and landless people from the government land and handing over bighas of land on hills and waterbodies to private builders and businessmen.
Bezbaruah said from January 1, the Mancha would launch a plantation drive on the hills to get rid of the annual problem of landslide. “Each development committee has been requested to plant at least 100 fruit-bearing trees for protection of the hills,” the Mancha president said.