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Seminar on city planning

Guwahati, Feb. 21: Experts said haphazard construction without permission, along with the absence of a proper drainage system, is what plagues the city most at present.

The experts were speaking at a two-day workshop on Guwahati in Transition: Urbanisation and Green Growth that was organised by the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) in the city that began today.

East Guwahati MLA and GMDA chairman Robin Bordoloi inaugurated the workshop.

During the workshop, the experts spoke of various issues that are leading to deforestation as well as pollution of the Kamrup (metro) district.

“The main problem facing the city is haphazard development. People are constructing buildings and violating building bylaws. This has to be streamlined for proper development of the metropolitan area. The city also lacks a proper drainage system and flash floods are a recurring phenomenon here. The Bharalu, which was the city’s natural drainage system, is used as a sewer to dispose of the huge amount of waste generated every day. In the absence of treatment facilities to clean it, the wastes leads to natural degradation of the river,” said Utpal Sharma, a faculty of planning and public policy, Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University.

“Cutting of hills has resulted in decreased vegetation in the forest areas. This has also led to erosion of the soil that, in turn, leads to landslides in hilly areas. Encroachment in wetlands, that act as the city’s backyard, are also hampering the environment of the city. The Silsako Beel is, in fact, shrinking at an alarming rate and if nothing is done to prevent encroachment, the city will lose these wetlands,” said Sharma.

The workshop also focused on issues relating to urban planning, delineation of a new metropolitan region for the city, urban transport, green growth and climate economy, options available for proper implementation of the master plan for Guwahati and capacity building in the context of urban planning.

Experts on urban planning have proposed five different zones around the city to develop the greater metropolitan region.

“We have proposed five different zones around the city to develop the greater metropolitan region. After weighing all pros and cons, the zone that is more suitable for extending the metropolitan region will be selected. The proposed metropolitan region will comprise an area of 3,000 square km, of which the urban area will comprise 800 square km. The rest of the area will include rural and forest areas,” said Sharma.

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