Soon Guwahati will become a smart city under the “100 smart cities mission” launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 25, 2015. But there is no proper drinking water system till date in Guwahati. Ironically the mighty Brahmaputra River flows through Guwahati and yet people are facing scarcity of potable water in the city.
The Greater Guwahati Water Supply Project was launched in 2009 with a budget of Rs 389 crore. This project aims at providing 24×7 continuous water supplies in Guwahati. The project should have provided water supply to every household in Guwahati by end of 2017. Unfortunately, the project has an unpredictable deadline. Only 30% works of the project has been completed till now.
The Greater Guwahati Water Supply Project is divided into four sections – (a) North Zone, (b) West Zone, (c) Central Zone & (d) East Zone. These four zones are commissioned to three corporations – (a) JNNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission), (b) JICA (Japan International Corporation Agency) & (c) ADB (Asian Development Bank).
JNNURM funded 107mld water supply project in West Zone, JICA funded 37mld water supply project in North Zone and 191mld water supply project in Central Zone & ABD funded 98mld water supply project for East Zone.
The current estimate of the project has gone up to 1450 crore. Officials say that the estimated completion of this project will be by the end of 2022.
What does government data say?
According to the Guwahati Jal board, nearly 60 % of pipe lying work in the North Guwahati Zone and 70 % of pipe-laying work has been completed in the Central Guwahati zone under the JICA assisted project.
While nearly 75 % of pipe-laying work has been completed in West Guwahati Zone under Gammon assisted project. And nearly 60 % of pipe-laying work has been completed in East Guwahati Zone under ADB assisted project.
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What do people have to say?
Pabitra Kumar Kalita, a residence of the Kharguli area says that even after the river Bramhaputra flows through Guwahati, the people are facing acute water shortages due to the government’s failure to complete the water supply project.
The government has neither made the status of the project public, nor they have cited any reasons for the delay of the project, he added. The project cost has gone up due to an inordinate delay in finishing it.
Nilima Das, a resident in the Gorchuk area of the city, said when they approached the local MLA, he assured them that the potable water will be made available to every household in the area after Diwali but till date nothing has happened.
Dipa Sarma, another local, said that Union minister Nitin Gadkari before the election had promised the people of Guwahati that every household will get water supply from the Bramhaputra river. “Although his party has come to power, they have failed to provide us pure drinking water,” she said.
Biren Thakuria, a resident in the Dharapur area, says that the government has not provided clean drinking water to them.
“They are solely dependent on tube wells, the water of which contains iron which causes health issues,” he said.
Basanta Kalita, a resident in the Gopalnagar area, says the installation of a bore well in the area has caused depletion of the groundwater as a result the hand pumps installed in the area have gone dry.
Struggles of people for water
The deplorable condition of the Greater Guwahati Water Supply Project has left no choice for the people of Guwahati to struggle. The rich who can afford are digging bore wells and the poor who couldn’t manage to dig bore wells depends on the water tankers.
The small water tankers come in 700 litres which merely last for 3-4 days in a household. Due to the installation of the bore well the significant amount of groundwater has been reduced significantly creating problems for the residents who solely depend upon the water well, which is now drying because of the bore well.
In many areas in Guwahati water are also containing iron which are causing health issues like skin diseases and damage to the liver, pancreas and heart. The residence of Guwahati is getting water from PHE and GMC water supply but only for a limited time, from 1 to 2 hours in a day which has limited many households’ activities due to not having a 24×7 water supply.
Priyankush Borah is a student of Lovely Professional University, Punjab.