Mighty Brahmaputra: Turning emotion into reality

Bishaldeep kakati

There are only a few cities not only in India but also in the world, where a river flows through it and in the process enhances its beauty. Similarly the northeastern part of India consists of a state known as Assam, where interestingly a male river known as Brahmaputra flows through most of its cities, be it Guwahati or Dibrugarh, thus making the state bloom with alluring scenic beauty.

In reality, the river Brahmaputra has always been an emotion for the Assamese community. This is evident from the thing that Brahmaputra has always found his name in the writings of not only common individuals but also in the creations of many luminary individuals like Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala, Lakshminath Bezbarua, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika etc. In fact, in terms of mythology, the water of Brahmaputra camouflages the legendary story of Parashuram, who after beheading his mother Renuka with his axe had to wash his hands in the river ‘Lohit’, as the axe with which he beheaded his mother got glued to his hands. Along with this, if we confabulate about the structures constructed or that are already being built over Brahmaputra, it still boasts of holding over it, one of the largest river island in the world, the smallest river island in the world, the longest bridge in India, the longest railroad bridge in India, the longest river ropeway in India etc. Moreover, it is on the banks of the river Brahmaputra itself that many tribes and communities of Assam thrive and the water resources of Assam have also been the source of livelihood for many. Hence the mighty ‘Burha Luit’ since time immemorial has always been termed as the lifeline of the Assamese community. However, even though, Brahmaputra has always been termed as an ‘Emotion’, in reality, the people of Assam have altogether failed to maintain Brahmaputra’s aura as they should have. But it’s high time, serious efforts must be put by the people of Assam, so as to maintain the river’s rich cultural history.

If we flip over the pages of history, we would understand that the mighty Brahmaputra is a storehouse of many possibilities and mysteries. It is believed that deep underneath the Brahmaputra, there might be a possibility of finding many historical artifacts like weapons used during the Ahom reign, stone cuttings and also the magical scriptures of the Black Magical Capital of India, ‘Mayong’. But with the passing of each year, this mystic river has simply become the storehouse of waste products, polluted items, non biodegradable wastes etc. And this dilemma of pollution of Brahmaputra and its subsequent banks has mainly occurred because of the reckless and careless attitude displayed by the dwellers of the state.

No doubt the dwellers of Assam consider Brahmaputra an emotion, but these are the same people who become careless when the talk comes about keeping the Brahmpautra clean. The matter of the fact is that Brahmaputra has a lot of tributaries and distribuatries, which if polluted, ultimately the entire Brahmaputra is polluted. An example of this is the Bharalu River which lies in the heart of the Guwahati city itself, and as people pass through that area, they not only come across some foul smell, but also witness all the waste products of Bharalu River directly falling into the Brahmaputra River. And these are the things that are actually acting as barriers in the process of converting Brahmaputra into an emotion in practical aspect and not simply in terms of words.

If we analyze the ways of converting Brahmaputra into an emotion in practical terms then probably there are two directions where efforts must be put in. And the two directions basically are – i) Keeping the Brahmaputra and its banks clean and ii) Escalating the potential tourism viability of Brahmaputra.

If we converse about keeping the Brahmaputra and its banks clean, in reality, it has been a major issue that actually hasn’t been properly dealt with as of now. But over here we can take the example of Cheonggyecheon in Seol, South Korea. The same river in 1940 became heavily polluted and because of the health risk it was eventually paved over for sanitation reasons and an elevated freeway was built over it. But with the help of massive government effort, the river has been restored and now it is an oasis in a concrete jungle, which acts as a boost to the local biodiversity and economic development. And this example can be an inspiration for the Assam Government in terms of coming out with innovative plans and schemes to restore the mighty Brahmaputra by making it free from waste products (biodegradable and non biodegradable). In addition to this, the Assam government can also come out with policies like Rivers for life Project, currently being implemented by ICLEI Africa, where the government can lay down strict rules and various guiding policies that regulate activities within and near the river.  Strict by- laws must also be implemented by the Assam Government by relating it to The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) ACT, 1974 and The Environment (Protection) Act, 1984 and also by imposing fine and penalties against those who pollute the river. Therefore for proper implementation of such policies, a city office for preservation of Brahmaputra can be set up in the capital city of Assam, Guwahati itself and that office’s only work should be to implement the innovative steps and policies taken by the government to prevent Brahmaputra from being polluted, a concept which can be taken from a city in Africa known as Adis Ababa.

The second aspect of turning Brahmaputra from emotion in terms of words to reality is its tourism factor. The tourism aspect would not only enhance the beauty of Brahmaputra to a great extent, but would also help the state to flourish in terms of river tourism. No doubt activities like night drive over the Brahmaputra are available in terms of ‘Alfresco Grand’ and others, but still a lot needs to be done in this aspect. Specially to beautify Brahmaputra at night, tall projectors or infrastructures can be constructed with sound system that will not only illuminate the surface water of Brahmaputra by presenting various tales and stories related to the history, mythology and the social aspect of the river as it flows through the city, but would also create melodious evenings. In addition to this, like street lights, if possible  river lights can also be introduced that would further beautify the river and display to the crowd the night travel of passengers by ships, motorboats etc over the Brahmaputra. And if this can be done one can actually visualize the awesomeness of the mighty blue. Furthermore, Brahmaputra also consists of numerous banks and in such banks, with proper planning, if seating arrangements are made for the crowd by introducing a minimal fee, then that would not only help the government earn revenue but also would help the people experience the day and night life over a river.

Brahmaputra is both literally and metaphorically beautiful. And that is the reason it is rightly termed as the emotion of the Assamese Community. But in order to convert Brahmaputra as an emotion in the imaginative world to the real world, a little bit of effort has to be put by both the government and the people in terms of its cleanliness and tourism aspects amalgamated together. And if it can be done it would not only glorify the name of Assam in the global level but would also further beautify the creative works of legendary individuals on Brahmaputra.

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Feb 20, 2021

Bishaldeep kakati

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