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Guwahati, June 29: The next time you visit Kamakhya temple, apart from divine blessings, you can also look forward to half-an-hour of free Internet surfing.

BSNL will launch a Wi-Fi Internet service, which will be available at Kamakhya temple and its adjoining vicinity, some time next month. Usage for the first 30 minutes will be free and the service will provide download speed of 2Mbps and be available 24×7.

Once the 30 minute time-limit is crossed, one can continue to use the service on a paid basis – for which subscription plans of different durations (30 minutes, 60 minutes, 120 minutes and so on) are being worked out.

Kamakhya temple in Guwahati

The general manager of BSNL’s Kamrup telecom district, Sandeep Govil, told The Telegraph the company had completed installing all the necessary equipment and currently trial runs were on.

“We hope to commission the service next month,” he said.

Govil said they are offering this service at Kamakhya temple because it is one of the major tourist and pilgrimage destinations in the country and everyday thousands of people from different parts of the country and abroad visit the site, which is one of the country’s most important centres of Shakti worship.

Apart from the temple premises, the facility will also be available on the stairs leading up to the temple, the car-park and in the adjacent shops and restaurants.

The process to set up the Wi-Fi Internet service began in January this year, when Tony Das, a member of the Kamrup district telephone advisory committee, put forward the proposal at a meeting of the panel. The local BSNL authorities then sent the proposal to their corporate office in New Delhi, which gave its nod.

“This is the first time that BSNL is offering such a service to the public in Assam, though they provide Wi-Fi Internet facility in some other major tourist destinations in the country like at the Taj Mahal and Varanasi ghats,” Govil said.

The Union minister forcommunications and information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, had inaugurated the facility last year in Varanasi and Taj Mahal.

The introduction of this service will boost amenities for pilgrims at the famed temple.

There could be more such development activities in store for Kamakhya temple. On June 26, Union petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan had promised funds worth Rs 25 crore for the development of the temple’s infrastructure over the next couple of years. This fund will come from corporate social responsibility projects of different oil companies.

 
By Pankaj Sarma

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Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal interacts with army personnel in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, June 29: This city today witnessed one of the biggest flood relief drills conducted by the army in association with the Assam government as a part of Exercise Jalrahat.

The three-day exercise began here yesterday. The army, navy and air force took part in the drill where choppers and an AN-32 military transport aircraft were used.

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal witnessed the mock drill as the chief guest at Sonaram High School ground on the bank of the Brahamaputra. A large number of people, including children, witnessed the exercise.

The drill, which lasted for over an hour, kept the spectators on the edge of their seats as the armed forces, the National Disaster Management Authority, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority and other rescue and relief agencies worked in tandem and precision to rescue marooned people from rooftops and inundated areas.

It also showed how people could save themselves from floods by adopting simple techniques with materials available in their surroundings and at home.

Army jawans in action during Jalrahat, a mega flood relief drill jointly conducted by the army and the Assam government, in Guwahati on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos

The highlights were the aerial reconnaissance, rescue by boats, rooftop rescue by helicopters, rescue by aerial ropeway, diving operation, small team incision and extrication operation (sky ops), manual rescue from multi-storeyed buildings and dropping of food supplies by helicopters.

Sonowal said the plan put in place will help rescue marooned people in the event of flooding. “With the sophistication in our technology systems, the rescue and relief operations have got a shot in the arm,” he said.

Extending his thanks to the armed forces and other agencies involved in the drill, Sonowal pointed out that such exercises should be carried out in rural, far-flung and interior areas so that people there get valuable tips on how to save themselves during calamities.

“It will be a good endeavour if these exercises to tackle urban flooding are carried out in the rural, far-flung and interior areas to create awareness in a big way. People in these areas must get the opportunity to see such exercises so they get valuable tips on how to fend for themselves and others when natural calamities strike,” he added.

The chief minister lauded the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on putting a comprehensive disaster rescue and relief operation mechanism in place to reach out to people at the time of exigency.

 
By A Staff Reporter

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Guwahati, June 29: She had taken adversities by the horn to become a lawyer but just as she was settling down, came a shocker – an acid attack in the heart of the city about four months ago that damaged her right eye and left her scared and shattered.

Nishamoni Borah, the young acid attack victim, is now planning to move Assam director-general of police Mukesh Sahay for security as the accused, Diwakar Baishya Sahu, is out on bail. “I have stopped moving out as he may attack me again,” Nishamoni told The Telegraph at her uncle’s house at Silpukhuri here today. She wants the DGP to intervene “for a free, fair and independent police investigation for justice”.

The attack came when Nishamoni was returning from her chamber at Bharalumukh around 6.30pm on March 19, scalding her eyes, face and neck. She named Sahu, a former colleague who used to practise law with her in 2015, as a suspect as he used to disturb her after she spurned his proposal several times. “He used to call me 20 to 25 times a day. After I asked him not to disturb me, he started sending text messages to me. Since he is offended with me, he might hire criminals to attack me to avenge his arrest, now that he is out on bail,” she said and added that she would request the DGP to provide security to her and her family during the ongoing investigation as they feared for their lives.

Nishamoni, who hails from Lakhimpur district in Upper Assam and used to stay in a rented house near Sahu’s rented house in Silpukhuri here, shifted to her uncle’s house after the attack.

Recalling her struggle, the 28-year-old, who has always fought life with gusto, said, “I shifted to Guwahati after my graduation in 2008 to study law. I faced financial crisis when I took admission in Gauhati University Law College as my family did not support me. Life was very tough in the city then but I was never scared. But this incident has shattered my confidence. Strong punishment to him will give a strong message that violence against women is not tolerated by the state and society.”

Sahu, who was booked under Section 326A of the IPC, a non-bailable section, was granted bail after the court, on going through the case diary, said that his judicial custody was not required. The accused, however, will have to be present in the court during trial/hearing of the case.

A police officer investigating the case today said the call records, text messages and other evidence made a strong case diary against Sahu but they were collecting some more evidence for filing the chargesheet. If proved guilty, Sahu can get rigorous imprisonment for 10 years along with a fine to be paid to the victim.

Nishamoni had received Rs 2 lakh as compensation from the government, but billed a treatment cost of Rs 2.5 lakh in a Hyderabad hospital. She said Sankardev Netralaya hospital in Guwahati had given her discounts but she requires a cornea transplant for which she requires more money.

“I don’t know whether I will get my eyesight back or not. I don’t know how will I manage money for the treatment,” she said.

 
By SUMIR KARMAKAR

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A stone-cutter at workin Dhubri. Picture by Bijoy Kumar Sharma

Dhubri, June 28: The community that has been for years engaged in cutting, engraving and sharpening stone sil pata (flat stones) used in every household for grinding spices, is in dire straits.

Nearly 3,000 families of Dhubri district who originally belong to the fishing community and are under the Scheduled Caste category, are facing a bleak future.

Once fishing was their right, but they lost it many years ago and the traditional sil pata cutting job is vanishing fast owing to invasion of markets by packet spices and availability of spice-grinding machines.

Ramkrishna Choudhury, 50, a fisherman and stone-cutter of the Bahadurtary area along the bank of the Brahmaputra in ward 11 of Dhubri town, said fishing in the river has become very difficult for lack of funds.

“For fishing you need a boat, a good net and two or three fishermen. But we cannot afford these as it requires funds ranging between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh which people of our community can ill afford. As a result, fishing was taken over by other communities living in numerous sar villages,” Choudhury said while sharpening and engraving a sil pata a few days back.

Asked how much they earn in a day, another man from the community, Pratap Choudhury, said they normally charge Rs 40 to Rs 50 depending on the size of sil pata and earn Rs 150 to Rs 180 but that too not regularly.

“With this meagre amount I have to support my family of five. My two sons and a daughter – all school dropouts and my wife have to work to meet the requirements. This year, a boy of our community passed HSLC for the first time from this area. We are very happy and proud of him,” Pratap said, while sitting on his tiny hired boat on the Brahmaputra at Panchughat.

Male members of these impoverished community at times shift to stone-cutting but they earn a meagre amount.

Though there are ample schemes for the socio-economic uplift of the SC community, there seems to be none to address their problems.

Bhola Choudhury and Mantu Choudhury recounted getting a bicycle and a box nearly 20 years back to sell small fish. However, they receive rice and kerosene regularly through fair price shops, Choudhury said.

Subal Chandra Das, a veteran activist, campaigning for the uplift of the SC community, alleged government apathy towards the all-round development of the community. He said there is a ministry of social justice and empowerment which oversees interests of the SCs.

“There are several examples that funds for schemes, meant for the community, were diverted. Can you think of a community living in knee-deep water in makeshift sheds for decades! Several crores sanctioned was spent elsewhere,” Das said.

Das said there was also no effort by teachers of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to enrol children at the primary level though there are schools nearby.

 
By Bijoy Kumar Sharma

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Agartala, June 28: Close on the heels of protests by the AGP and the BPF, the BJP’s coalition partners in Assam, against the Centre’s decision to auction 12 “small oil fields”, the Tripura unit of the CPM has made an issue out of this.

Denouncing the decision announced jointly by petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal to “auction” 12 oil fields, the CPM state secretary and central committee member Bijan Dhar today alleged that the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre is leading the country to disaster by deciding to hand over precious natural resources to “profit-obsessed” private companies.

“‘The people of the state concerned and the entire country have the right to its natural resources, but the BJP-led governments in Assam and at the Centre are handing them on a platter to avaricious companies and corporations. This must be stopped at any cost. These oil fields are worth Rs 12,000 crore,” Dhar said.

He was interacting with the media at the state CPM’s headquarters in the Melarmath area of Agartala.

He spoke on a range of issues, including the decisions arrived at by the just-concluded meeting of the party’s central committee from June 18 to June 20.

“In a meeting held yesterday, we have reported to members of our state committee the contents of the discussions held and the decisions arrived at by the party’s central committee,” Dhar said.

The CPM leader said the results of the recent Assembly elections in five states had been discussed and admitted that the party did not fare well.

“Except in Kerala, we did not perform to our potential in any state. In Puducherry, an Independent candidate supported by us has, however, won; but that is a small gain,” Dhar said.

Regarding Bengal, he said the state party unit had not act in consonance with the earlier decision made by the central committee on the question of tactics.

“We hope from now on the Bengal unit of the party

will try to stand on its own by organising themselves properly in accordance with the party’s central leadership’s line, resolutions of the 21st party congress and the five-day plenum held in the last week of December last year,” Dhar said.

He attacked the “semi-fascist” terror unleashed by the ruling Trinamul Congress across Bengal in the wake of the Assembly polls there. “As many as nine of our comrades were killed and thousands of our supporters have been driven away from their homes in areas where the Left candidates performed well. This will be exposed all over the country through sustained movements.”

He also criticised the media for not highlighting the atrocities being perpetrated by the Trinamul Congress, asserting that despite the poll defeat, the CPM had secured 1.8 crorevotes in Bengal while the Left forces together had secured 1.48 crore votes.

Dhar said from the first week of July, the Tripura unit of the CPM would launch an agitation programme through padayatras to focus on certain crucial issues confronting Tripura.

“The main problem is our connectivity through National Highway 44 which has been in poor shape for the past few years and neither the previous UPA government nor the incumbent NDA government has done anything to improve the situation. We also need far better telecom services here as the condition of Internet and mobile telephony is absolutely unbearable. Broad-gauge railway connectivity has also been hanging fire. So these must be resolved,” Dhar said.

 
By Our Special Correspondent

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The gathering prays for Swu at Nagaland House in Shillong on Tuesday. Telegraph picture

Shillong, June 28: The Naga community residing in the Meghalaya capital today mourned the demise of NSCN (I-M) leader Isak Chishi Swu. A section of the community also appealed to the Centre to expedite the peace negotiations on the Naga issue.

Led by the Naga Students’ Union (NSU) and the Naga Elders’ Forum of Shillong, a gathering at Nagaland House this evening termed Swu as the “father head” who dedicated his life for the Naga people.

The departed NSCN (I-M) leader had graduated in political science from St Anthony’s College here. Adviser to the NSU Khalter Khampa said the Naga people have lost a “visionary” and a “father”.

“But we take this opportunity to appeal to the government of India to expedite the peace talks. More than a decade has passed, but what has happened?” Khampa asked. He said once the talks are settled, peace would prevail not only in Nagaland, but in the entire Northeast.

Appealing to the Naga people, he said, “Let us not be divided anymore. We have already suffered a lot.”

NSU president Viyie Kuotso said Swu was a leader who dedicated his life to the Nagas.

Former vice-president of the Naga Elders Forum, H.L. Shangreiso, described Swu as a “tall leader” who made contributions and sacrifices, and who stood for the “truth”. “He (Swu) earned the support of well-wishers all over the globe. His sacrifices will encourage the younger generation,” he said.

The gathering, which was attended by youths and elders alike, also prayed for the departed soul.

 
By Andrew W. Lyngdoh

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Guwahati/Silchar, June 28: To some he was a father figure, to others a revolutionary friend and to still others a statesman. The tributes poured in thick and fast from across generations as former militant leaders fondly recalled their association with NSCN (I-M) chairman Isak Chishi Swu.

(From top) Ranjan Daimari and Zoramthanga

“He was like a father to me,” was NDFB (R) supremo Ranjan Daimari’s first reaction when The Telegraph informed him about Swu’s death.

Daimari said he had first met Swu at the NSCN headquarters in Myanmar in 1987, a year before the organisation split.

“He and (NSCN general secretary) Muivah had stayed in our camp in Bhutan in 1990. Swu’s wife was also there.At that time, they did not have their base in Myanmar after clashes with the Khaplang group,” Daimari recalled.

Swu stayed for two months while Muivah stayed on for another month. “It was from there that they went to Nepal where they had their passports made before going off elsewhere,” he added.

“We learnt a lot from him about revolution and about their struggle during their stay with us in Bhutan. He was a good teacher. He was also very religious, he never missed his prayers,” Daimari said.

He said Swu had called him to Kathmandu in June 1993. “We met at a hotel there. He said a large consignment of arms and ammunition was to arrive in Bangladesh and we could also take some. Together we went to Bangladesh after that, my first visit to the country. They gave us 11 weapons, including a rocket launcher,” Daimari said.

“He was not only a revolutionary leader, a fighter and a God-fearing person but also a fatherly figure in the revolutionary movement in the entire region. He always extended help to the needy,” Daimari said.

Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia, condoling Swu’s demise, said they had lost a “long-time revolutionary friend”.

Recalling his first meeting with Swu in 1983, when a six-member team of Ulfa leaders visited the NSCN central headquarters in northern Myanmar, Chetia said, “I remember him as a religious-minded, jovial and sports-loving person. I also found him to be physically fit though he was in his mid-fifties then. I still remember how he trudged through the hills much faster than us though we were much younger than him. He also used to provide advice and guidance to us.”

“It is not by my might nor by my wisdom, but by the grace of God and the guidance

of Holy Spirit that have seen me through this far. The introspection of half a century

service that I have given for the nation is a reflection of how the Lord responded

magnificently to the nation building process”

Isak Chishi Swu

According to Chetia, Swu was a great advocate of a stronger bond between the Assamese and the Nagas and had always blamed the government machinery for creating the Assam-Nagaland border dispute.

An Ulfa delegation, led by chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, will attend the last rites of Swu likely to be performed on Thursday, Chetia said.

Both the NDFB and the Ulfa are engaged in peace talks with the Centre.

Zoramthanga, former rebel leader-turned-politician from Mizoram, said, “He was a great statesman and a great leader of the Naga people. He fought his entire life for the rights of the Naga community. He was a very mature and religious human being. The void will be difficult to fill.”

Zoramthanga, who heads the Mizo National Front which signed a peace accord with the Centre in 1986, was second-in-command toLaldengaduring the MNF’s secessionist movement.

Speaking about his personal relationship with the NSCN (I-M) leader, he said he had a “very cordial relationship” with Swu and would miss him.

 
By Pankaj Sarma and Nilotpal Bhattacharjee

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Swu with NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah. File picture

Described variously as an intellectual guerrilla or a gentle rebel, chairman of the most powerful rebel group in Northeast India, Isak Chishi Swu, 86, died today.

Not even his detractors deny him the virtues of loyalty to the Naga cause and faith in god, earning him the sobriquet of a gentleman rebel across the northeastern states.

Swu, a holder of degree in politics and economics from Gauhati University, may have preferred to continue studies at a Baptist Seminary in the West. Destiny, however, had other ideas.

As “foreign secretary” of the “Federal Government of Nagaland”, he was to confer with the Indian foreign secretary and participate in the six rounds of talks with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

During the over 70 rounds of talks with the government of India, he represented the NSCN’s soft diplomatic face since 1998. Whether it was Bangkok or New Delhi, top officials would feel compelled to stop a few minutes for the prayer that Swu would recite at the beginning of formal talks.

For the NSCN, a chunk of history has been suddenly taken away, a softness removed, leaving behind a void that may tempt political uncertainty.

Swu was too big, too important a man to be lost without seeing the end of India’s oldest insurgency.

Before dying, however, Swu signed an important document last year paving way for a final settlement between Delhi and his organisation, the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah). Top rebel leaders and government officials went to the hospital to videograph Swu putting his signature on the agreement that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described as historic.

Swu’s importance as a top leader from Nagaland – his associate and ato kilonser or “prime minister” Thuingaleng Muivah is from the Tangkhul Naga tribe in Manipur – was on the top of minds while signing the framework agreement.

Nor is his importance diminished in the minds of rival factions.

“He has given his entire life for the national cause,” said “general” Thinoselie Keyho of the Phizo-led Naga National Council (NNC).

Once a companion while training in East Pakistan, “general” Thinoselie reminisced Swu’s leadership not just in Pakistan but also as the latter along with “general” Mowu, led a batch of 400 rebels to China in 1967-69.

Born in 1929 to Kushe Chishi Swu at Chishilimi in Zunheboto district, Swu belongs to the Sema Naga tribe. The tribe has not only given its share of warriors in the likes of “general” Kaito or leaders like Kughato Sukhai, the tribe has been one of the most important groups both in underground and overground politics.

So, when a part of the Sema leadership was in the midst of intrigue in the NNC, Swu was entrusted to lead a contingent to China.

It was after the 1975 Shillong Accord between the NNC and the government of India that differences arose between leaders like Thinoselie on one side and Swu, Muivah and S.S. Khaplang on the other.

Swu, Muivah and Khaplang formed the NSCN on January 31, 1980, in opposition to the “sellout” that they saw in the Shillong Accord. Eight years later as decks were cleared for the NSCN (I-M) to be formed, at a Myanmar hamlet close to the Indian border, Khaplang would try to put an end to his associates Muivah and Swu.

It was here that a leader from the Konyak tribe is said to have stepped in to stop a bloodbath that could have changed the course of history.

“General” Khole Konyak, a grand old man perhaps holds out the guiding light as Swu departs leaving behind some political uncertainty. Konyak is one of the potential successors to Swu as he enjoys shared history and, a favourable geography as the NSCN tries to realise a pan-Naga dream.

Even during the early days of factionalism within the NNC in the 1960s, it was Swu who was credited with calling for peace and asking people to “stop attacking each other”. Decades later, the pious rebel leader was the best face for reconciliation on whom Muivah depended.

He last visited his native village in 2012.

Swu’s departure begs the question of who will provide the soft even unexpressed, diplomacy that he was capable of.

 
By Nishit Dholabhai

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A Korean delegate dances Bihu at Kaziranga Golf Resort in Jorhat last year. Picture by Ankur Borgohain

Jorhat, June 29: The uniqueness of Assam tea, its position in India and the world, and the traditional handmade teas of Assam will be highlighted at the annual conference of the Federation of Korea Tea Masters Society (FKTMS), scheduled to be held at Gyeongju city in South Korea in August.

FKTMS is the mother organisation of the Korea International Tea Research Institute (KITRI).

Pradip Baruah, renowned tea scientist and senior principal scientist of Tocklai Tea Research Institute here, has been invited by the FKTMS to share the common interest on tea among tea lovers and experts of Korea.

The presentation by Baruah on History of Indian Tea and Development of Indian Tea through the Eyes of Assam will be translated into Korean and published in a book form.

Baruah told The Telegraph that it was a big honour for not only him but also the tea industry in Assam as the various aspects of Assam tea would be highlighted in his presentation.

“It will not only help to popularise Indian tea, particularly Assam tea, but would also help in joint research among the Southeast Asian countries for development of tea,” the Tocklai scientist said.

Baruah, known nationally and internationally in the field of tea, has been working with the Tea Research Association (TRA) for about 24 years.

He is the author of four books, the important ones being The Tea Industry of Assam: Origin and Development, the first and only comprehensive analytical book on Assam tea and Chitra Bichitra Asom (encyclopaedia of Assam in Assamese).

He has also authored 19 papers/articles on the various aspects of tea management and was invited to Karatina University, Kenya, in 2014 as the keynote speaker from India to speak on Indian tea at the international conference.

Baruah discovered Senglung tea estate, the lost tea garden of Maniram Dewan, along the Assam-Nagaland border in Sivasagar district a few years ago. He has also carried out extensive research on the wild teas of Assam, Phalap – the famous handmade tea made by the community members of the Singpho tribe, and the history of tea in the eastern tea growing region of India spanning a period of over 30 years. Korea has been showing a keen interest in Indian tea, particularly Assam tea, in recent times.

Last year, a 25-member Korean team, including women, had come to India and visited tea gardens in Assam, Darjeeling and Sikkim and also mingled with tea experts and planters.

The team, sources said, was impressed with the activities involved in the tea industry of India. It was also impressed with the handmade tea in Assam.

The team visited Singpho villagers, interacted with the organic handmade tea producers of Assam at Demow in Sivasagar district where a cultural extravaganza was organised and Assamese traditional food served.

 
By PULLOCK DUTTA

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Assam chief secretary V.K. Pipersenia speaks at the gathering in Guwahati on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, June 28: The city came a step closer to formulating a hands-on, comprehensive plan to fight floods today.

Exercise Jalrahat, a three-day mega flood relief drill jointly conducted by the army and the Assam government, began today at Narengi army cantonment here – where more than 10 agencies compared notes.

In his opening address, Lt Gen D. Anbu, GOC of 4 Corps, stressed the need to integrate the key facets of the National Disaster Management Plan, 2016, to include understanding of disaster risks, investing in disaster risk reduction and enhancing disaster preparedness.

Assam chief secretary V.K. Pipersenia said in the past the army had assisted in flood rescue and relief operations, but this is is the first time they had got involved in disaster management right from the planning stage.

“This will help bridge the gap in terrain familiarity, circumstances and interpersonal relationships with other agencies involved in the task,” Pipersenia said.

Joint secretary and state project coordinator of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), Nandita Hazarika, said it took Columbia University three years to put together a report on how to handle floods in Guwahati.

She said the city lacked a comprehensive drain map and also detours had to be plotted to keep the traffic moving during floods. The city had no official record on urban floods and Hazarika’s team had to cull out information from newspapers.

“There was no flood and landslide-zoning and hence no building bylaws matched terrain requirements. There must be standard operating procedures (SOP) to deal with encroachment and the city must also invest in low-income housing in order to prevent illegal encroachment of water bodies,” she said.

Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) chief executive officer Anurag Singh spoke about desiltation work that needed to be done at Deepor Beel, Borsola Beel and Silsako Beel.

“We have invested in the latest dredging technology and removed 2.5 lakh cubic metres of silt from Deepor Beel alone,” Singh said.

The meeting, which was conducted on a basis of possible worst-case scenarios, also took stock of “dewatering and water evacuating facilities” in place in Guwahati.

Pipersenia suggested that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) develop a mobile app not just for Android phones but also iPhones and Windows phones to update the public about the latest weather conditions.

In attendance today were senior officials of ASDMA, District Disaster Management Authority, IMD, State Disaster Response Force, National Disaster Response Force, civil defence, army, BSF and CRPF.

Conspicuous by their absence were officials of the Assam Power Distribution Corporation Limited (APDCL), who had been invited but none turned up. So, the gathering couldn’t be appraised if the power company, for example, had done its bit to ensure that privately-owned electrical equipment like inverters were kept safely during floods.

Government health officials, too, didn’t show up at the meeting, the result being that crucial capacity building issues in terms of government healthcare facilities could not be discussed.

A representative of International Hospital, however, said that their facility had 24-hour power back-up to meet flood problems.

An official of the North Eastern Space Applications Centre (NESAC) informed the gathering that they could provide only partial early warning to the administration in terms of urban floods.

“We have the capability of issuing an early warning in terms of when Bharalu river floods but we can’t tell you with our current knowhow which areas it will be inundated,” he said.

While there was a lot of talk about technology and Whatsapp as information dissemination tools during a crisis, a woman from Nabin Nagar, one of the most flood-prone areas in the city, had a suggestion stemming from first-hand experience.

“When you wake up in the middle of the night and see your belongings floating around, there is no time to go on Whatsapp. Why don’t you give something as basic as a siren to warn us of a possible flood,” she asked.

The gathering not just welcomed her proposition with loud clapping but Pipersenia directed Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner M. Angamuthu to actively consider it.

 
By A Staff Reporter