Boats Sole Means Of Reaching Dhemaji via NH 52

Dear Friends,
Many of you must have already read this news item in www.assamtribune.com. Still for those of you who haven't I am sending the following news item of The Assamtribune published on 11th Aug. 2002.
Sincerely,

Subhasish Baruah,
Guwahati, Assam.
e-mail: subhasishbaruah@yahoo.com

N.B. The link for reading the news item in case you are intersted is : http://www.assamtribune.com/aug1102/at06.html

Guwahati, Sunday, August 11, 2002
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JIADHAL FURY: Country boats transhipping a Tata Sumi and commuters to Dhemaji town across the breached portion of NH-52 by the flood waters of Jiadhal at Samarajan. Photo Samarendra Sarma

Boats sole means to reach Dhemaji via NH-52
By Bijay Sankar Bora
DHEMAJI, Aug 10 — Boating along the National Highway-52! Sounds strange, but that is what one has to experience at Samarajan to reach Dhemaji from Gogamukh side. On July 10 this year, menacing flood water of Jiadhal river which has shifted its course towards east, washed away a major portion of the NH-52 along with the newly-constructed wooden bridge of 70-metre in length at Samarajan cutting Dhemaji off from the rest of the country along the highway. Both the 110 metre of road and the bridge at Samarajan was constructed only in March this year at a total cost of Rs 2.34 crore including Rs 48 lakh for the bridge, by the State PWD engaging contractors.

Now, 32 country boats belonging to the flood-hit locals of Samarajan area have become the only means for transhipping men and materials to Dhemaji from Gogamukh through the breached section of the NH-52. Plying of boats has become the main source of sustenance for the flood-hit people of the area who used to boast of highly productive paddyfields of the area that was once considered granary of Assam. As a matter of fact, at this moment the economy of Samarajan is floating on these boats. The core of this flood-time economy revolves around income from these boats that is spent in the local market to produce rice, and part of the rice is used to prepare rice beer that caters to the thirst of hardworking boatmen.

Deputy Commissioner of Dhemaji district, BR Samal, blamed it on the ‘faulty design’ by the PWD which constructed the road and bridge at Samarajan in March last with Rs 2.25 crore provided by the Ministry of Surface Transport (MOST), for washing away of it by Jiadhal flood water. He said while designing the bridge the PWD should have taken into consideration the peak discharge of the river at 2100 cubic metre per second as per the estimate of flood control department. “Improper design and lack of maintenance combined to make the bridge vulnerable for flood water and subsequently led to its collapse,” Samal said.

As per the norms, the contractor who constructed the bridge, is responsible for maintenance of the bridge for six months after completion of the work. However, it was not done. The DC said the bridge could have been saved if the PWD had taken steps in time to protect the piles by shielding those with boulders etc as soon as the flood water hit the deck on July 2 last. Till July 10, the bridge was cowering under pressure of swirling flood water before the final collapse. The Deputy Commissioner said it would continue to be a futile exercise to build bridge and roads in the area unless the Jiadhal river could be reverted to its original course which it left at Kumatia a few years back.

Meanwhile, the people of Dhemaji has started questioning the inordinate delay on the part of Brahmaputra Road to complete its model testing for rectification of the course of Jiadhal river. The North Eastern Council (NEC) is ready to provide fund to the Erosion and Drainage (E&D) department to take up the project of rectification of Jiadhal course by plugging the breach at Torajan up the stream, constructing guide bund etc, on the basis of model testing report of the Brahmaputra Board. Moreover, alarming flood and siltation problem created by the Jiadhal is due to massive deforestation along its course in Aruanchal Pradesh. The Deputy Commissioner said, “along with the effort to correct the course of Jiadhal, both the Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments must co-ordinate in launching a large-scale afforestation drive to mitigate the flood menace,” Samal said. Strategically important Dhemaji needs for more attention from the Government of India.