Despite having three water supply schemes: the Guwahati Municipal Corporation, the Urban Water Supply & Sewage Board, and the Public Health Engineering, only 40 per cent population of Guwahati have access to tap water.
In 2009, the then Congress government launched an ambitious 389 Crore water supply project to supply 24-hour running water to the city. However, 12 years later, only the first phase of the project at South West Guwahati under JnNURM at Sadilapur in Jalukbari has been initiated. With the GMC election only days away, the water scarcity issue is gaining momentum again. It also tops the list of assurances provided by the candidates as they knock on each door to convince voters.
Former Mayor, and the BJP candidate from ward number 29 Mrigen Sarania, claims to deliver running water to all the households of Guwahati by June.
“All the works related to the water supply project are closing completion. We will start distributing forms among the public for connection probably from May or June. In the first phase, around 50,000 connections will be provided. Pressures testing of the pipes have been done,” Sarania said.
He also mentioned that the water extracted through the initial borewell had silt in it, which delayed the project further, and another bore was drilled, which has been successful in providing clarity.
The Congress, taking a dig at the BJP for failing to deliver water, said that all their assurances are a lie. Assam Pradesh Congress Committee general secretary Apurba Kumar Bhattacharjee cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the people of Guwahati before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his address in 2014, had said he does not understand why a city which has a mighty river like the Brahmaputra flowing by its side doesn’t get water to drink. They have formed the government twice at the Centre and in Assam. Yet they could not deliver on their promises. Now, with elections coming, they are back, promising water by May. It is all a lie,” Bhattacharjee said.
A total of 208 candidates are in the fray from 60 wards for the election scheduled for April 22. The BJP had fielded 53 candidates, of which three have already won uncontested, the Congress is contesting in 55 wards, while the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has fielded candidates in 7 wards.
The Guwahati Municipal Corporation election was last held in 2013, where Congress had won 19 of 31 wards and the BJP bagged 11 wards, and one was won by Asom Gana Parishad. While 2013 was about the Congress versus BJP, the 2022 GMC election is also witnessing a sizeable presence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP). AAP has fielded 39 candidates while the AJP is contesting from 25 wards. Resolving the city’s water scarcity issue is also among the top priorities for both the new entrants.
We don’t provide assurances but guarantees. We have guaranteed to resolve eleven issues, and the priority is given to water. We will resolve this crisis, and within five years, the residents will have taps with running water. And within one year, every household will get free water. If required, we will deliver water through tankers,” said Dr Bhaben Choudhury, coordinator of AAP’s Assam chapter.
Despite being the largest city in northeast India, Guwahati is besieged with several problems ranging from drinking water, flash floods, road connectivity and door-to-door garbage collection. The city has a population of 11.37 lakh of which 7.84 lakh will cast their vote on April 22 with expectations that the issues including water scarcity will be resolved at the earliest.
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