The Assam government on Tuesday enforced a ban on the use of plastic and polythene materials to prevent drains from getting clogged after heavy rains the day before flooded Guwahati, throwing the city out of gear for nearly four hours.
"The decision to ban the use of plastic and polythene is one of the many steps taken to prevent water logging. The ban would be enforced very strictly and there would be penalties like imprisonment against defaulters," Himanta Biswa Sarma, minister for Guwahati Development Department, told journalists.
The ban is being ordered for three months in Guwahati city only. "Most of the plastic and polythene bags are found to be blocking the drains leading to water logging," he said.
The minister said a draft master plan that is expected to come into effect from August could ease the water logging problem in Guwahati with focus being laid on stopping people from constructing houses on hills surrounding the city, besides preserving the wetlands.
"Unless we are able to stabilise the hills and prevent fresh encroachments on the hills and create eco-sensitive zones in the wetlands around Guwahati, the problem of water logging would continue. No amount of drains could ease the problem," Sarma said.
However, several opposition political parties and citizen's groups have opposed the draft master plan, saying that genuine landholders would be deprived of constructing houses on hills.
"If we are to save Guwahati from floods and water logging we must enforce the draft master plan and take steps to prevent the hills being used for dwellings. Those who have been staying in the hills for the last 15 years would not be affected," the minister said.