A walk on the Heramba Bordoloi Path will remind you of streets abroad, perhaps Singapore.
But no, this street is not located in Singapore. It is in fact in the city of Dibrugarh in Assam.
Courtesy? Gautam Bardoloi, the son of the social activist after whom the street is named.
Dubbed “Dibrugarh’s first world-class road”, it is equipped with proper drainage, solar street lights and even a garden.
Speaking to the Indian Express, residents of the Boiragimoth locality where this road is situated, say how the Heramba Bordoloi Path was a low-lying kaccha road which was rendered useless each time it flooded in the monsoons.
50-year-old Pratima Das, who would wade through knee-deep water, said, “It wasn’t a road…more like a giant pothole, only fit for cows. But today, I’m at a loss for words to describe the transition.”
How did this transition come about?
This particular road is known to be one of the oldest in the Boiragimoth locality, a residential colony which is home to over a thousand families.
The street was christened Heramba Bordoloi Path after Gautam’s father in 2008, incidentally the same year that the city-based social worker passed.
“The Dibrugarh Municipality named the road after my father in 2008. While it was a wonderful gesture, the road was in a pitiable condition,” Gautam told The Indian Express.
And so, armed with the will to turn it into a world-class street, the technocrat and entrepreneur embarked on a journey, to honour his father’s memory.
Recalling the legend that his father was, Gautam says, “My father, who was also a journalist, devoted his life to social work. In the floods of 1968, he had single-handedly rehabilitated the fisherfolk community, displaced from Mohanaghat by helping them build a new life in another village called Notun Tekela Siring Motek gaon. He helped them get documents for land, established a library and a namghar (prayer hall). My mother is still invited to the village to hoist the flag on his behalf every Bihu.”
Gautam, who began the reconstruction work in 2013, shuttled between his hometown Dibrugarh and Hong Kong, where his company is based.
He mobilised a few of the local boys and started filling up the road to raise its height by one-and-a-half feet. They also used PVC paver blocks in front of gates of individual houses later.
The journey of turning it into a modern street began in 2017 when the “real work” started, says Gautam.
“I set up a drainage system, the lack of a proper one was what was causing the floods every year. We then started laying out garden patches on both sides of the road. Some local boys helped me in painting the road too,” he says.
On either side of the 178 m road are garden patches with various ornamental plants — “and papaya, turmeric, and coriander, too!” he told the Express.
“I wanted to make a model world-class street,” he beams.
In addition to the eye-catching ornamental features, the road is also equipped with solar street lights, reflective studs, pavement markers, rubber speed breakers, and convex road safety to avoid accidents.
The walls have been plastered with vinyl posters that have messages on cleanliness and road safety.
While Gautam is unsure about the actual cost of the transformation, he estimates the project at about Rs 13 lakh!
“It took me five years to do this. The first thing many people asked me today was, ‘How much did it cost you? Was it a community initiative?’ When I say it was my own, they are shocked. But it isn’t that shocking. My father devoted his whole life to social service. This was the least I could do,” he signs off.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)