The city of Dibrugarh, situated on the banks of the River Brahmaputra, in Upper Assam, India, is the gateway to the three tea producing districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, and Sivasagar. These three areas account for approximately 50% of India's Assam tea crop and this gives Dibrugarh its rightly earned sobriquet as the Tea City of India. Oil and Timber are the other big two industries in and around Dibrugarh.
By : Sri Biswajit Barooah
TOWN flourished beyond Author Biswajit Barooah (extreme left) with a leading personality of Assamese journalism Sjt Kanaksen Deka(second from right)
It became a fantasy for all the Aristocratic families over the world when the renowned Motor car manufacturing industry launched its new model of savrolet cars in the years 1936. The marketing division of this industry the Allen Barry and Company even set up four centers for show rooms in the colonial India according to the demands for the savrolet cars. One will be astonished to know that one of the four centers was Dibrugarh, after Lakhnow, Calcutta and Delhi. In regard to this the company’s entrepreneur Mr Allen Barry’s agent Mr. Steward himself had come to Dibrugarh and opened up a branch office in a big building with showrooms as stated by the elderly citizens of Dibrugarh. The site was very much near to the then circuit house by the bank of the river Brahmaputra. So far our knowledge is concerned, the showroom displayed seven savrolet cars which were sent by the company on the deck of the ship. The opening up of the Allen Barry and Company in India i.e. Calcutta, Delhi, Lakhnow and Dibrugarh was highlighted in all the leading mass communications of that time. The Rs. 3,675/= rate savrolat could be easily purchased at Dibrugarh at an initial payment of Rs. 220/=. We do come across the 1936 Savrolet model among many families of Assam mainly kept as a prestigious possession. With the treaty of Yandaboo, the British Company could bring back peace in Assam as the inhabitants were made free from the clutches of the alien troop- the Burmese. This paved the way for the Company’s settlement in Assam. However the British took many measures in order to prevent further invasion of any alien troop in Assam. In regard to this, many constructions were done by the year 1910-1912. Amongst them was an elongated fort encircling the tributary ‘Dibaru’ so that the Burmese would not be succession in crossing the Brahamprutra to create panicky. Thus the town that flourished beyond this elongated Fort came to be known as Dibrugarh from ‘Dibaru’ or ‘Dibru’. Not long after its birth, Dibrugarh soon became an important centre for British trade in North East India.
Dibrugarh is gifted with abundant natural resources like oil, coal, timber, tea, bamboo etc. As a commercial center, the utilization of these available resources were statically and the Britons brought three Steamers up to Mohanaght for transportation of the goods which later established itself as a famous port. By the year 1921 two Fly-overs which were known as FLATS at that time were built under the supervision of Sir Scott. When ships came, they go over the Flats which made loading of goods easier but as ill luck favours, the Flyovers along with the Steamers were destroyed by the 1950 earthquake. However, one could still sea such Flyovers near the river Thames of England, as learnt by me from a visitor of London and friend of mine Sri Raktim Dutta. Upto the year 1945 three British Steamers BRAHMAKUNDA, SONAGHULI and the DIHING KONWARI (Princess of the river Dihing) ran regularly between Dibrugarh and Calcutta. Although these ships were mainly used for transportation of goods, no restrictions were imparted on the local passengers too. Many Students during that time went for further studies to places like Gauhati, Shillong, Dhaka and Calcutta. Besides these, travelling became a pleasure for many aristocratic families who boarded the Sonaghuli steamer very often to go not only to Gauhati but also outside India. However, according to a Press release during independence time: the Sonaghuli steamer broke down at the port itself and Brahmakunda pulled into Amingaon. Later there were no trace of these steamers. Otherwise, Dibrugarh by now would have been linked with many Industrialized countries of the world which would have made it a prosperous Town marching alongwith with any other cosmopolitan cities of India. In the year 1986, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi , on a visit to Jorhat did say that renewal of navigation between upper and lower Assam could be carried on but it is yet to be practiced . On this issue the then Central Minister of Navigation Mr. Rajesh Pilot even went a step ahead to state that a Navy Cargo already sent from Mumbai on trial basis but there were no sign of such for the past 15 years. It would be noteworthy to mention that the first Eastern (Purbanchal) Railway line was set up between Dibrugarh and Saikhowaghat soon after utilization of the natural resources were carried out. Mr Jenkins waved the green flag as an opening ceremony of this railway line. Again, after eight months of this ceremony, another track was started from Dibrugarh to Ledo for the transportation of Coal. This resulted in opening of a big workshop for the repairing of Railway Engines and manufacturing of compartments at Dibrugarh. The big workshop with its high standard from khalihamari to Naliapool still exists but not in the set of modernization although it has a huge number of nearly six thousand workers and is an important workshop with the advent of the broad-gauge to this section. Moreover, even in the field of road vehicle – city bus was first used in Dibrugarh itself after it was popularized as a medical town. The Bus Owners Association even made it a point to paint the buses white so that outside commuters may be aware of Dibrugarh as a successful Medical town in the entire region. No doubt, the major earthquake of 1950s took away most of Dibrugarh’s prevalences including the site of the British established ports, Circuit House, Government Schools, Old D. C. bunglow, Commssioner’s
bunglow built by Sir Scott and created a mass sensation of panicky as the death of Dibrugarh by the river Brahmaputra in the verge was on air, but today even after 60 years of independence the same trumpet blows even though Dibrugarh has much to say. It is true, Dibrugarh is dying of slow poisoning – but this death is not a natural calamity but the red tape policies of the Government and their negligence assured. Dibrugarh is left under midst of teary erosion by the river Brahmaputra and its tributaries, although suggested measures are put forward by River-Experts of the world who vehemently say that there is no danger for Dibrugarh. It brings anger and frustration on any conscious citizen to hear the cries of Dibrugarh about its slow death and soon will be another destroyed city in spite of its past glories. Today, Dibrugarh would not have suffered if it was in any other developed countries of the world. There would have been researches on this land which might have resulted in many new investigations and discoveries.
A precious gift to the people of Dibrugarh.
Dibrugarh Court Building established by the British Rulers in the year 1872.
Still the court functions are going on……
© BRAHMAPUTRATIMES.COM, original script in Assamese. Translated by the Moderator at Patro Gaon Road, Lahowal Industrial town, Railway station: Lahowal,Airport: Mohanbari, Dist: Dibrugarh,Assam. Writer: Biswajit Barooah, a noted author in Assamese who may be contacted on # 91-9401800021(SMS please)