Saturday, 10 March 2012

Rendezvous with Silchar's alleys

By Sonica Rajkumari

After few months I will enter into the world of planners. Few questions arise in my mind — did I learn all the components of Planning; what actually do I know which differs me from other professions. Here I am not pointing on my course; it is just how well I grabbed the knowledge regarding my course.

Four years ago, some of my friends including me who cleared AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination) and got admitted into the course without knowing what exactly this course is all about and what are we supposed to do. One thing we all knew that we need to do thesis in 4th year.

For me, 2 years just passed without knowing what actually our job will be in the industry; fine we are having studios like site planning, area appreciation etc., and some theory subjects. After 2nd year, I started learning something. But one thing is for sure, Planning is such a wide subject that 4 years is not enough to learn everything atleast for me. But obviously that doesn’t mean I take years to get a Bachelor Degree.

Thesis in final year is a must. After passing of the thesis, one gets a degree. I can’t run away from it. With 1st year working in a group, here in 4th year, I need to give my individual endeavour and implement whatever I learned so far and even more than that. I don’t know, whether the Planning course is complicated, or it has complicated my mind. But some of my class mates really enjoyed and loved it. Ultimately, I have to pursue it and I tried to give my best. I didn't know what would be my thesis topic, but surely it will be related to my home town Silchar.

Now when I am at the final stage of my course, selecting topic for thesis and case area made me aware of the complications to avail data on Silchar. As behind every successful thesis there is availability of authentic data. My faculties made me aware of this difficulty which I may come across while preparing my thesis. I had options of taking case area somewhere near to my college or in Delhi, which will save both energy and money. Also data will be available and the place can be visited again to collect the data anytime.

Drainage system in Silchar
As I decided to do thesis on Silchar, I observed the town from the perspective of  a planner and analyse its problems. I was sure that Silchar is facing lots of urban issues like lack of proper roads, drainage system, solid waste management, and lack of planning ..., which is intolerable to anyone staying in Silchar or outsider visiting Silchar. During my 4-years course period, I never visited Silchar. Before joining the course, whenever I used to visit Silchar I used to love staying in home.

In January, I visited Silchar. My train journey started from Delhi in a bitter cold day. I never travelled during winters. And I really hate it; in future I would try to avoid travelling during winters especially to Silchar where train tests your patience level.

I spent around 10 days in Silchar for data collection, out of that actually worked for 6 days, as Sunday, Republic Day all this came in between. This time Silchar town was looking as normal as other towns look. I didn’t find many problems in Silchar as I used to face before related to roads, drainage etc., may be because it was not a rainy season. When it rains, then Silchar shows it colour. 

Kutcha Roads in Silchar
First day, I had a meeting with the Chairperson of the Silchar Municipality Board, who is also MLA. The purpose to meet her was just to get her green signal for letting me get data from the municipality.

It was tough job for me to make the people understand what kind of data I need and for what purpose despite of having an official letter from college. The experience was different and rough as compared to other places I visited through college for the studio purposes. So far we had visited Hyderabad, Kottayam (Kerala), Cuddalore (Tamilnadu) and Vijayawada where language gap is there but got good responses from the government offices in terms of collection of data. But in Silchar it was not that welcoming in comparison to these cities; some problem was there, I don’t know, may be I don’t know Bengali. But my other classmates doing thesis on Guwahati also faced the same problem. But wherever I found Bishnupriya Manipuris in offices I got over and found extra data, without any hurdle.

I mostly visited Silchar municipality as my topic revolves around it. My primary objective is to study and assess the financial status of municipality and its performance. I learnt few things that how well municipality is accountable to its citizen and how well citizen are accountable towards city problem. I will get the actual scenario related to Silchar and the municipality after analysing the data. But one thing I would like to share here which make me laugh everytime when I think of it. Wherever I roamed in Silchar I didn’t find a single municipal bin for throwing solid waste. From the municipality, I get to know that, the large municipal bins which are put along the road for the solid waste, get stolen the very next day of its installation by the scrap people. I found it really funny — poor municipality people; one thought that stroked into my mind after hearing this was- ‘not a bad idea.’

Waste Management in Silchar
Somehow I got required data for the thesis. Some data which I didn’t get, I will think about it later but can’t go again from Vijayawada to Silchar alone spending 4-5 days in going and coming total 10 days. The main idea of taking Silchar as my case area was to associate myself to Silchar closely, to understand and analyse its problem with strong backup of authentic data from authentic sources. Even a normal citizen can see the potential and problems of the city which is visible, like problems related to roads, drainage and the ways to improve it. But suggestions for improvement become more logical if a study and an analysis are done related to the issue. As very less study has been carried on Silchar town. 

Peers says my topic is interesting but not an easy one but let see will I be able to do justice.

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