“Water-Water Everywhere, Not a Single Drop to Drink”: Will Guwahati Vote For Potable Water Supply?
Guwahati: Water, water everywhere, not a single drop to drink- Just like the famous lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, for people in Guwahati, drinking water has been an age old crisis despite the region’s biggest Brahmaputra river has been flowing by its side.
It’s the debate over drinking water that has once again became the hot topic in recent times ahead of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) elections slated in April 22, when rainfall flooded the city but people were left without drinking water supply.
Recently the people of Guwahati have been showered with promises of drinking water again after some nine years since the last GMC polls were conducted. From chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma who was campaigning for BJP-AGP alliance to Opposition parties like Congress, Asom Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and even Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who was testing its luck for the first time gave promises of drinking water supply within months and days to denizens here to woo their votes.
But the fact was that currently, only about 30% Guwahati residents have access to piped water from some of the old water supply schemes of GMC, public health engineering department (PHE) and Assam Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Board (AUWSB).
The rest have to depend on the private water suppliers or tubewells. To address the crisis, the state government had started construction of four water supply projects in the city a decade ago.
The construction of the South West Guwahati (funded by Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission project was started in 2009, South Central Guwahati (funded by JICA) in 2011, the North Guwahati project (funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency) in 2011 and the South East Guwahati project (funded Asian Development Bank) in 2016.
A huge sum of Rs 203 Crore has been expensed so far for providing potable water supply to every household in the city. But surprisingly, the pipes installed for water supply continued to remain dry.
With the high decibel campaign for the GMC polls over, now it’s time for people of the city to retrospect before they go and cast their valuable votes. The stage was now set for 197 candidates who were in the fray in 57 wards, while BJP candidates in three wards have already been elected uncontested.
While BJP has already claimed that it would win the GMC polls convincingly, Opposition Congress too claimed to put a show in the election.
A total electorate of 7,96,829, comprising 3,96,891 males, 3,99,911 females and 27 of the third gender, will be eligible to exercise their franchise in 789 polling stations spread across the 60 wards.
But will the issue of drinking water decide the fate of the candidates or it would be just a repetition of other elections where BJP and allies sweep?
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