Eviction drive to clear encroachment around Guwahati lake begins

Over 1,000 police personnel have been deployed for the drive to avert any untoward incident, they said.

Getty Images (Representative Image)
Getty Images (Representative Image)


An eviction drive to clear around 400 bighas (over 132 acres) of land along the banks of Silsako Beel in Guwahati began on Monday, officials said.

Over 1,000 police personnel have been deployed for the drive to avert any untoward incident, they said.

Around 300 families, mostly Assamese and Bodos, have been affected by the drive, which saw no significant resistance as people vacated their houses before the operation began began and left with their belongings.

Urging Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to postpone the drive by a month, a sobbing Ranju Basumatary said her son was appearing for the matriculation examinations this year.

"I plead for postponing the drive by a month so that my son's future is not affected," she said.

"It is heart-wrenching to see that the house that I had set up with love and care being reduced to rubble," said Marami Kalita as she helped load furniture into a van.

Around 450 structures will be brought down in the eviction drive. Among these structures are 300 houses -- both pucca and kuccha, while the rest are commercial units such as godowns. Five excavators were working at the site, officials said.

A similar drive was carried out earlier as well but the encroachers returned, they said.

This time, the drive is being carried out by the Kamrup district administration after the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) earmarked the area.

The government in 2008 declared the lake, located near Hengerabari and Choy Mile, a protected waterbody and prohibited any construction or settlement in around 1,800 bighas (over 595 acres) of the area.

"However, massive encroachments have been taking place over the years. Now, we have less than 300 bighas of the lake remaining free from encroachment. Rest all have been encroached upon and buildings have been constructed," GMDA chairman Narayan Deka told PTI on Sunday.

Because of encroachment, the waterbody has been reduced to a small pit and this is one of the main reasons for water logging in the eastern part of Guwahati city during the monsoon, he claimed.

"The government has decided to clear this lake from encroachment and then GMDA will implement a project to develop it into a bigger lake. We will dredge and expand it gradually," Deka said.

Though around 1,200 bighas are under encroachment, the GMDA as a first step has set a target to clear 100 metres on both sides of the lake, which is around 400 bighas.

"This project is very crucial to make Guwahati city free from water logging. For 15 lakh residents of Guwahati, around 300 families will face some inconveniences," Deka said.

The Sarma-led dispensation has been carrying out eviction drives in different parts of the state since it assumed power in May 2021. Setting aside opposition criticism, he told the assembly in December that eviction drives to clear government and forest lands in Assam would continue as long as the BJP was in power.

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