By Bhrigu Pathak

In the Comprehensive Master Plan for Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority-2025, it is mentioned that growing urbanization level and the pollution have had a negative impact on the region’s (GMDA) stability. Overall wetland degeneration has emerged as a major problem in the region caused by encroachment, natural siltation, earth filling, and garbage dumping. But ignoring the sensitive facts and the suggestions of the Master Plan, Centre as well as the State Government are in a hurry to set up AIIMS in Assam at Jalah of Sindurighopa Mauza, North Guwahati (Not at Changsari). ‘Jalah’, the name itself says that it’s a natural reservoir.

In the Master Plan, actions envisaged to check depletion of wetlands, earth filling in the wet and low-lying areas and suggested that it should be stopped. Referring to the present Drainage Situation, the Master Plan mentioned that with the exception of a small area of the city, where Town and Country Planning, Government of Assam have implemented drainage schemes,but, nowhere within the Guwahati Metropolitan area is any planned drainage system in existence. In other recommendations in the Master Plan, it is said that the encroachments on natural drainage system, which is the main reason for the blockage, should be stopped. But the New Town-I, proposed in the North Guwahati covering Jalah area, all these criteria are ignored, willfully, just to satisfy the vested interests of a section of people.

According to the Master Plan, Ghorajan is the only primary drain of North Guwahati Basin, with approximately catchment area of 13.31 sq.km.This is the only isolated basin situated in the north bank of the river Brahmaputra. The main feature of this basin is that the river Ghorajan, drains to the Brahmaputra through Numalijalah Bil. The total area occupied by this basin is 32.3 square kilometre.

It also states that on the north bank of river Brahmaputra, the river Ghorajan flows from low-lying swampy areas of Ghorajan Bilvia Numalljalah Bil and discharges into river Brahmaputra just to the western end of Barbil. So, by setting up of AIIMS at Jalah reservoir will create havoc by flash flood in the North Guwahati, its surrounding area as well as the infrastructure of the AIIMS. So, why AIIMS at Jalah?

But the expertise, irrespective of technical and political, never mentioned about the proposed third site for AIIMS-Khetri, which is visited by the central team headed by Mr. K. C. Samaria. Mr. Samaria, in his report, rejected Nalgedera, Khetri as a high rocky land and the North Guwahati site as a deep George. But the reality is that, Khetri site- Nalgedrais a hillock, not hill & the rocky land, and Nalgedera is the most suitable for construction than the Jalah, as the region is situated in the seismic zone V.

Lots of reasons, not regions, are there to be mentioned in favour of Khetri site. I want to single out some important points in a nutshell, which is required for setting up of AIIMS, as specified by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in their Request for Proposal (RPF) to attract bidder for already completed or ongoing AIIMS project.Now it is the call of time and responsibility to review their decision by the central expertise committee, before taking any final decision for setting up AIIMS in Assam.

  • In Khetri’s proposed site, there are sufficient land for future extension of AIIMS-like institute& suitable soil for construction. In the proposed site Nalgedera, there are more than 900 bighas (360 acres) of land.  This site is situated in the revenue village of Helagog, Dimoria Mouza & its Dag No. is 587. 
  • There is no permanent or temporary construction in the site, for which no compensation is required to pay.
  • There are three roads connecting Guwahati & Khetri, viz., NH37 via Khanapara, Narengi-Amsing Jorabat via Digaru and Narengi via Pobitora. These three ways of communication to Khetri from Guwahati can reduce the traffic volume of Guwahati city, that can be created by the movement of the patients & their attendantsand patient can freely move to their destination. Moreover proposed Kuruwa-Narengi Bridge on Brahmaputra could help the people of the North Bank to easily connect with Khetri.
  • Digaru and Kollong are two potential rivers for water supply.
  • Proposed Tetelia Railway Junction, connecting Meghalaya is just 1.5 km away and Kamrup Khetri railway station is just 3.5 km reach. Two big railway stations, Digaruand Jagiroad are nearly 13 km away in the west and east direction of Khetri. The location at Khetri is a flood-free and peaceful area with beautiful landscape.
  • Geographic location is the most suitable for communication of the people of other six states.

Then why it is necessary to set up of AIIMS in a reservoir. One may justify the point that sophistication of present day’s constructions is sufficient to build any type of construction, anywhere.

But the financial implication for such a mammoth project is huge. Who will bear the cost? The exchequer, i.e. the common people!Great!

Tailpiece: I am not an expertise. You can call me a reactionary. I am not the sponsor of ‘sentiment of Assam’. 

[Shri Bhrigu Pathak, Sr. Sub Editor, Dainik Asom, Chandmari, Guwahati-3]

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